Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Friday Night Lights - PJC Style

After his discharge from the service, Lou enrolled in Pueblo Junior College and started classes in January of 1946. He played on the basketball team that season, and then added another sport to his resume when he joined the football team in the fall of that same year. These pictures show that Dad was not a big guy, only about the size of his son Don - and nobody would ever mistake Don for a football player! But as we read in his account that follows, he played well and loved the sport.

#30 - Pueblo Junior College Football Team
Fall of 1946 and 1947

I went out for football that fall [1946], and played left end. In those days we played both offense and defense (and had no protection for the nose or face on our helmets!). Since Coach Simmons only used football as the place to get his basketball team in shape, most of the coaching was done by other players who had high school experience. In my case, it was Bob Butler (no relation to me) who had been an All Conference End at Pueblo Central High School before the war.

Bob took over the job of helping me to know the position, which was his position too. So I was second or third in line from the start. However, during the first few practices he was hurt and from then on just helped to coach, and I got the opportunity to be the starter most of the time. The greatest confidence builder for me was in our first game. I was able to take out the interference with a successful rolling block which enabled the line backer to make the tackle. I heard Bob Butler yell to Coach Simmons, “See that! You don’t have to worry about that end position!”

I had a very successful season, missing only one game in Grand Junction against Mesa Junior College as I didn’t want to be out of town when Lou, Jr. was born.

November 1946 marked the end of the football season. I had reluctantly played football, and had really done it only to satisfy the basketball coach, who wanted me to be rougher on the basketball floor. To my surprise, at my soaking wet 130 pounds, I played, never got hurt and loved the game. I started most of the season and lettered. I ended up enjoying it as much as basketball, almost.

The All - American Couple

I had a fairly successful football season again [in 1947] and was lucky enough to never get hurt even though I played both offense and defense on the starting team. We only lost one game, and that was to Trinidad Jr. College.

Lou's greatest fan!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Patiently Waiting

As we have read here, Lou joined the Navy in October of 1942 - which was Leona's senior year in high school. Given the length of their courtship and the fact that they were crazy about each other, there wasn't much question that they would be married, it was just a matter of when. So when Lou went off to Boot Camp, Leona enjoyed the activities of her last year in high school.

Page from Leona's high school yearbook - Senior Year

She sang with the Centennial High School Singers, and was a member of the elite Cecilian Choir.

Leona and Lou's brother, Chuck, dressed alike for the
senior class"Kids Day"

Leona - Chuck
May, 1943

Family helped fill the time while Lou was gone.
Leona - Charlotte

Eldon (Lou's brother) and Leona

But mostly I imagine she spent a lot of time writing letters, looking forward to the day they'd be together again, and wondering what their future looked like. And as we know now, that future was well worth the wait!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Letters from Moscow . . .

. . . Idaho, that is.

In the notebooks were letters Lou wrote to his younger brother, Eldon, while in Radio School in Moscow Idaho. Eldon was sick during this time - maybe Rheumatic Fever - and was spending a lot of time in bed. It's fun to read Dad's own words, written at the time he was away - not how he remembered it later. His thoughts go from the silly (remember, he was only 20 years old) to the spiritual and give a good idea of the wonderful man he would become.

June 8, 1943
We cut a picture of Betty Grable out of the paper and glued it on our calendar and we almost have a constant parade in here - it's really neat.

This bathing suit photo became the number one pin-up picture of the World War II era.
It was included in Life 100 Photos that Changed the World.

He told some jokes:
There were two little morons who were walking along a fence and heard some voices on the other side - one lifted the other to see who it was -- he says - is it men or women? The other one says (it's a nudist colony) "I don't know - they don't have any clothes on!"

Do you know why the little moron wet his pants? to see which leg it would run down.

He wrote about the challenges of his Naval responsibilities:
June 9, 1943
. . . every morning we listen to the "Jap Press." It is actually the Japanese press from Tokyo and sure does pass out the propaganda. I can't copy it all yet, but can get the meaning of it all. Yesterday he was talking about strikes - he said the people in the USA were in bad spirits because they were striking - that there were no strikes in Japan or Germany. He is always cussing Churchill or Roosevelt. He really hates the Catholics too. He sure did make the battle at Attu sound glorious for the Japs.

Boy, it's a good thing that I have a weekend liberty coming Saturday - cause I'm about to go code-crazy. This school sure would be neat if it was about 8 months long, and just 8 hours a day. Boy, I used to think school was long when I was in High School. When 3 comes along and it should be time to go - we still have from 3 to 5 hours to go. Monday I had 11 hours school - yesterday 10 - and today only 9, but tomorrow 10 and Friday 11.

He shared his testimony and encouraged his brother:
June 15, 1943
This is a wonderful opportunity for you to gain a better understanding of our gospel. You will find that you will be able to use it constantly as you get older and possibly away from home. Many people laugh at things of a religious nature - yet you will always find a chance to use all of the knowledge you have of it. Especially this is true at the time of death or sickness - people want to know why - why it is this one and not someone else - this person is too young and good while so and so is not near so good - maybe the world would be better off without one than another. So they are in doubt - causing much useless worry - and often creates a bitter feeling towards a God who they do not understand.

You and I know that there is a reason for such things as illness and death - we can see the beauty in those things which only show ugliness to the people who don't understand.

We are blessed greatly by being born into such a swell family and have a great opportunity. Maybe you are ill as you are so that you can have this wonderful opportunity of learning more about the gospel - thereby gaining the knowledge to enable you to be one of great importance in the fulfiling of God's plan here on earth. Who knows? We do know that you are as you are for a reason. Make the best of it!

Don't think that I am trying to preach to you. I merely want to let you know that through the few experiences that I have had already - a greater knowledge would have been wonderful.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Classroom Haircut

Lou was the principal at Strack Elementary School from August 1953 - June 1956. This story is yet another illustration that working with elementary age kids offers a variety of experiences!

Obviously, not an actual photo of Raymond, but you get the idea!

Raymond Lucero was a very quiet boy with very blond hair and big blue eyes. His hair had probably been shaved in June, and since it was now September, he had a pretty good growth of hair. It went straight up all around like a beautiful blond bush!

Johnny Wilson sat right behind him with a pair of scissors. The temptation was too great for a creative (and very ornery) first grader. So in one quick cut, he had a big chunk of that blond hair! Then another, and another, until he had five or six places where you could see his scalp.

Being very timid, Raymond just sat there, probably not fully realizing what had happened. Someone else held up her hand and told Mrs. Austin to come look at Raymond’s hair.

Mrs. Austin showed him to me right after school and asked if it was all right with me if she got permission from Raymond’s mother to take him to the barber shop, which she did. Mrs. Lucero was very pleased to have Raymond with a haircut, even though it had to be very short. She had twelve children at home!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Life in a Quonset Hut

Quonset hut "city" on Adak - World War II
Lou's fellow sailors

In 1941 the United States Navy needed an all-purpose, lightweight building that could be shipped anywhere and assembled without skilled labor. The George A. Fuller construction company was selected to manufacture them. The first was produced within 60 days of contract award.
A Quonset hut is a lightweight prefabricated structure of corrugated steel having a semicircular cross section. The design was based on the Nissen hut developed by the British during World War I. The name comes from their site of first manufacture, Quonset Point, at the Davisville Naval Construction Battalion Center in Davisville (a village located within the town of North Kingstown, Rhode Island.)
Between 150,000-170,000 Quonset huts were manufactured during World War II. After the war, the U.S. military sold the surplus Quonset huts to the public for $1,000 each. Many are still standing throughout the United States, primarily used for commercial buildings (especially Army surplus stores). - from Wikipedia

Lou's home away from home

We lived in Quonset huts [while stationed on Adak] with bunks lining each side of the room. We each had a locker built into the side of the hut and a bunk type bed beside our locker. The huts had a door in each end with two windows at each end with plywood covers to keep any light from showing out at night. We also had a table about 4 feet square at each end of the room. They were usually being used for card games of the gambling type.

Lou's space
notice all the pictures of Leona on display!

We didn’t have tables at our bunks, but each locker had a small shelf on the side by the bunk that could be used for writing. No tables meant no place for junk to pile up on! The lockers had adequate shelving for all of our clothes and anything else we had. At the bottom they were quite deep, but at the top they were quite shallow. We had an oil stove in the middle of the room that would get red hot if turned clear up. It was really quite comfortable and because of the construction, they did not have inspections, except to see that it was not a health hazard.

We had no easy chairs, but we were free to lie down on our bunks any time without fear of inspections of our beds or lockers. We weren’t supposed to have food in our lockers that might get contaminated and cause us to get sick, but anything that was not perishable was okay to have in our lockers. It was really quite comfortable to sit and write letters or read.

Dining Hall on Adak

The head (toilets, showers, and wash basins) was located in a central place to about each group of 8 Quonset huts with 16 guys to a hut. The chow hall was up the hill next to the Quonset area and the Radio Shack was on up the hill about 100 yards.

Note the wooden walkways
(unidentified sailors)

There were wooden walks with a large line (rope) to hold on to in stormy weather as we went to chow and up to the radio shack. If it was storming at night we hung onto the rope to get where we wanted to go. In the winter it was light only a few hours around noon and in the summer it was only dark for a couple of hours at midnight.

The Quonset huts were tight, not allowing the winds to come in, and they had a protective entering area around the one door that we used most of the time. Because of their shape, the wind just went over us most of the time, and the rain and snow went down the sides into ditches which drained the water away from the Quonset hut.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Fowler Weekends

Alice Bell and Clark Harriman
Lou's cousins

In the fall of 1935 I started the 7th grade at Park Hill Junior High School and began an interesting two years of unexpected association with one of my teachers. Her name was Miss Norton and she grew up on a farm in Fowler, Colorado just a few miles from where my Uncle Frank and Aunt Birdie (Harriman) lived. Somehow we made the connection that I liked to spend time visiting down there wherever I could, and she invited me to ride down to Fowler with her and another teacher, Miss Esther Hilton. She said that they went to Fowler almost every other weekend right after school on Friday, and they returned to Pueblo on Sunday evening about 5 or 6 p.m. Now this really appealed to me, and though I couldn’t go every time, I did go often. I would take my suitcase to school on Friday afternoon and then they would drop me off at our home on Sunday evenings.

I had great fun on these weekend trips to Fowler. Usually it was nothing real exciting, but just being with Clark and Alice Bell was a great pleasure for me. Many times it was just being with Clark doing one of the many chores around the ranch. One week it may have been fixing fence all day Saturday way out on the prairie many miles from the ranch house. That may not sound like fun to many people, but I always had a good time. Whatever we did, we made it fun and we enjoyed the fact that we were accomplishing something all of the time. This is where I really learned to work and to enjoy it. Uncle Frank made me feel like I was really something, and sometimes I would be paid for the work.

Uncle Frank Harriman
on his way to check things at the ranch

(year unknown)

Rattlesnake Scare
Sometimes it did get exciting. I remember one time when we were fixing an extension to a fence to go right up to the edge of a creek bed with a drop of about 15 feet. There was a large sage brush there, and as we attempted to hold down the brush with our feet and get a post hole near the edge, we heard a loud rattle and there was a large rattlesnake in the base of the brush. We both fell backwards getting out of there in a hurry!

Tumbleweed Fire
Another time we were hunting rabbits up near the spillway from the Highline Ditch to the Apishapa Creek, and we observed that where the water had been released to the creek in order to clear the tumbleweeds out of the ditch, they had accumulated in a huge pile on the way to the creek. I don’t know if many people know what a great fire a large pile of tumbleweeds makes or not, but we thought it would be fun to burn this large pile of tumbleweeds.

There was no one at home; they had all gone to town except for Clark and me. Fowler is about five miles from the ranch house and the land is pretty flat. When we lit the tumbleweeds it made an awfully hot fire, and we had to back off a long way. The fire got bigger and bigger until the flames were going up into the air about 75 feet or more.

Just as the folks were leaving town they saw this huge fire ball and the smoke (from 5 miles away) and they thought it was the ranch house on fire. Needless to say, they were really excited until they close enough to know that it was not the house. It is also needless to say that we were in big trouble!

Bringing up the Rear
Another weekend found us irrigating the big garden which was just west of the house. We rode a big paint horse, bareback, up to the head gate and started the water running down to the garden and then proceeded to open small ditches into the rows of the garden. Then we went back to get down to the east end of the garden.

When those rows were watered we jumped on the paint horse again and went back up to the west end of the garden to reset the water. Clark was riding behind me, and as we got to the end of the garden, the horse started to step on the first tomato plant. Clark reached around me, grabbed the reins to pull him back from the plant. But when he did, the horse raised his head and reared up, causing us to start to slide back off the horse. As we slid, we held to the reins and pulled him back and up more until we slid off the rear end and into the ditch full of water and mud.

Clark lit in the ditch, I lit in his lap, and as we looked up, there was the huge rear end of the horse directly above us and about ready to drop into my lap. We were both scrambling to get out of the mud and water as the horse pivoted around and stepped on the side of my lower leg and buried it in the mud.

The horse scampered off a few feet and stopped. I jumped up and started hopping around on one foot thinking my leg was broken for sure; Clark was trying to get up out of the mud. We were so glad we weren’t sat on by that horse that we started laughing as Clark saw me hopping around on one foot, and we were both covered with mud. We must have been quite a sight.

Then we heard Aunt Birdie yelling from the other end of the garden to see if we were all right as she had seen the whole thing and didn’t know if we were badly hurt or not. She said all she knew was that I was hopping around like a chicken with its head cut off and Clark was still down in the mud! However, my leg was just bruised, but I was scared to death!

Somersaulting Horse
One day I went with Clark and Uncle Frank (Harriman) to the feed lots near Manzanola, Colorado. We were in a Chevy Coupe, pulling a horse trailer with a horse all saddled and ready to do something at the feed lots.

We drove down and took care of business, and put the horse back in the trailer to go home. This time we went up Highway 50 instead of taking the short cut on the back roads as Uncle Frank needed to go to the bank in Fowler on our way home.
We met a couple of big trucks on the highway, and the horse began to jump around in the trailer. His bridle/halter was tied down pretty good, but he was jumping around a lot. Uncle Frank slowed down and when we were almost stopped the horse lunged and did a somersault over the front of the trailer and the saddle horn crashed in the trunk of the car. The bridle reins broke and as we were almost stopped, the horse rolled off to the ditch side of the road and was not hurt. We covered his eyes and got him back in the trailer and made it home.

Alice Bell and Clark
circa 1931

Croquet Mishap
Another day when I came out of an incident a little worse for wear (and would be for the rest of my life) was the day we were playing croquet in the front yard of the ranch house. Alice Bell was waiting for her turn by spinning on her toe with her croquet mallet at arm’s length in both hands, and I was sitting on the grass waiting for my turn. When my turn came, I jumped up just in time for her mallet to meet the end of my nose with enough force to send me flat on my back, my nose bleeding like mad! To this day I have trouble with my nose, even though I had surgery on it in 1993 in Greeley. I have never cared much for croquet since that time.

There were many more fun weekends, but that is enough for now.

Aunt Birdie and Lou - 1943

Harker and Della Davis Family Group Sheet

Harker and Della Davis were parents of 14 children. One of them was Mable Elsa Davis Butler, Lou's mother. This family group record provides an organized view of this large family.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Adventure on the High Seas

USS McCawley - World War II Troopship
Not the one Lou was on, but probably very similar

After a 30-day leave in Pueblo, I went back to Seattle, Washington [more about the time in Seattle later] and shipped out on an old Kaiser Troop ship which at one time had broken in half and had been welded back together and put back into use.

Because of the fear of being attacked by Japanese planes and submarines, we had to keep all lights covered so we could not be seen at night. This means that all hatches (doors) and all other openings which might let out light had to be secured. It cut back on the ventilation in the holds where we were bunked. It was so crowded with soldiers and sailors going to Anchorage, Alaska or out to the Aleutian Islands, that the air was very foul smelling. The fact that many of us were seasick from the ship rolling and tossing because we were going up the coastline rather than really out to sea was the cause.

The welcoming view . . .

I was seasick the full 14 days and very glad when we finally arrived at Adak. The ship rolled so badly that we had to stand up for our meals. I spent most of my time in my bunk, which was one of 14 high, or up on deck to get some fresh air when we were allowed to go topside. After the first day, I only ate the fruit I could get.

Adak's newest crew member

When we first got there, the crew was just eight men. They really hated to see us arrive, because now the base would be much larger and much of the informality and comfortable things would change. They were used to being able to just go into the kitchen and cook whatever they wanted from the stockroom and so the food was great. We brought cooks and other non-radiomen with us, which meant more rules and regulations. However, it was still pretty loose, with no inspections for months at a time, and we were pretty much left alone to just do our job.

Lou in the wildflowers - 1945

In about late June, the tundra grass came live with wild flowers which were very pretty and a very welcome sight after seeing nothing but brown, dried tundra grass and snow and mud since we got there. There were no trees to be seen anywhere. We also saw the salmon come up a very small creek to spawn. They had to go on top of the rocks and sand much of the time to get upstream. We had salmon steaks in the hut once.