Because the nearest hospital was located in Longview, I have had to note on all official government documents that I was born in Longview, Cowlitz county, Washington, but in less formal circumstances I claim to have been conceived, born, and raised in the hill country south of Rainier, Columbia County, Oregon.
Like many of the men in the community my father was a logger. He owned a small stump ranch five miles out from town. We had a garden and some livestock. I had to do the usual chores associated with a small farm: feed the chickens, hoe the garden, slop the pigs, and milk the cows (and that was before breakfast. The real work started later in the day, when it started getting daylight.) Being an only child didn’t help either, there was no one to share the chores.
I attended a two room country grade school (Fern Hill). walking the mile to and from school, going past the neighbor’s vicious dogs, sometimes trudging through the rain and snow.
Rainier Union High School was a great experience for this quiet, bashful, country kid. The school was small enough that nearly everybody had to be involved in nearly everything so I was in the band, in the choir, played football, basketball, ran track, and was involved with school politics.
The first great motivation in life came the summer I was old enough to work in the mill. Being basically lazy the reaction to hard work created a sudden desire to go to college. It wasn’t so much that I knew what I wanted to do but I knew what I didn’t want to do.
Oregon State College was the school of choice. OSC was a land grant college and in those days all able bodied males were required to enroll in ROTC. The Army offered foxholes, the Navy bobbing boats, and the Air Force offered a chance to fly airplanes. By then I had discovered that commercial airline pilots had the highest paid technical jobs in the world; so the Air Force offered what I saw as my best chance at an airline pilot’s salary.
I ran out of money before I could finish college but the Air National Guard offered me a chance to be a navigator, an officer, and a gentleman so I married my college sweetheart, Margo Hudkins, and away we went.
After a few years as a GIB (guy in back, a Radar Intercept Officer), in the F89 I qualified for pilot training and finally became fully fledged, sitting in the front seat, combat ready, fighter pilot, putting in time in the F101, F102, and the F4.
Northwest Airlines hired me as a copilot based on my Air Force experience and training so I did fulfill the ambition to become an airline pilot.
About a year and a half of riding sidesaddle convinced me that whoever said flying was 99 percent boredom and one percent sheer terror had the boredom part figured out right. (The captain and the copilot ride facing forward in the direction of flight. The flight engineer faced the side of the airplane, thus referred to as riding sidesaddle. The junior man in the cockpit was automatically the flight engineer.)
Thinking it was time to finish the college education and get the sheepskin I quit the airline job and enrolled at Portland State College. Sometime along then I decided it might be more fun to ask questions instead of answering them and I elected to get a Master’s degree in science teaching.
Eventually I took a Civil Service job with the Oregon Military Department as a flight instructor and flight evaluator at the Air Guard Base in Portland. The last years of that career were spent as the Chief of Safety, a job that sent me out on aircraft crash investigations as an investigating officer.
After medically retiring from the civil service, having completed 25 years of Reserve service in the Air Force, I attended Portland Community College, earning an Associate degree in Computer Field Service. I joined the adjunct faculty at PCC, teaching classes in basic electronics, digital electronics, and computer repair.
Ballot measure five took its toll on the electronics and computer department and I was again in the ranks of the unemployed retired.
Margo and I joined the Grange in the community where I grew up… we have made many friends within the extended Grange family. Yes, we are indeed brothers and sisters within the fraternity. I served the Grange as a Subordinate Grange master, a Pomona master, State Deputy, and State Master.
Marvin and I spend every minute available in the search for the perfect picture of a wildflower. We delight in the time we have to spend in the search.
Most days once the weather warms up you can find me miles from a paved road, down a old two rut trail, laying in the dirt in search of that perfect picture of a wildflower.