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Review of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Posted on 04/07/2019. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

The book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is a classic.  First published in 1970, it caused a perception change in the minds of many Americans of the history of the interaction between the western Indians and United States government, white settlers and the US Army. 

The history of that period was described in history books and articles written by non-Indians authors, written from the perspective white people who viewed Indian land as an opportunity to bring white law an order to a disorderly virgin land where a few nomadic Indians roamed about and to convert it into to a better and more profitable use. The white people populated the land they claimed, they surveyed it, divided it into parcels, attached titles to the parcels that proved ownership that and could be bought and sold. In the Indian world the land belonged to everyone to be used as needed.  

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee was written by the Author Dee Brown to view the history of that period from the Indian’s perspective. The Indians had resided in North America for thousands of years before the white men appeared and invaded the land that Indians considered to be their land. The Indians were tribal and fought each other over who controlled parts of the land, but it was all Indian land. However, when the white men came, they began appropriating the land for their own use. The Federal Government made the land takeovers ligament by persuading the Indians to sign treaties in most cases. If that wasn’t successful, white settlers, miners often ignored Indian land boundaries and if the Indians attempted to drive them out the US Army would protect the settlers or miners. The Indians were often given gifts, money and the promise that Indians would retain a portion of the region for their own use forever. Maybe the people signing for the government believed what the treaty stated. The Indians may have trusted the US Government. It would have had to be trust because, with few exceptions, the Indians could not read or understand what they were agreeing to.  Whatever the treaties stated; in the end it didn’t matter since the United States government broke its promises in every treaty that it signed with the Indians.

As the white men pushed westward, establishing farms and cities, the Indians retreated until there was no room to retreat further.  For the Indians it became a matter of resisting or capitulating, giving up their lands and freedom to be confined to reservations that provided neither game for hunting or land fit for growing crops. The Indians choose to fight and though they won battles despite fighting an army better trained and armed, the Indians couldn’t and wouldn’t win. The plains wars ended with the battle of Wounded Knee where the US Army massacred an Indian encampment on December 29, 1890 on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, killing three-hundred men, women and children.

Dee Brown used carefully researched history to tell the story from the Indians perspective in third person, while adding the authors thoughts in first person. This book is a must read for those interested in American history.    

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Get a Free Copy of “PushBack”

Posted on 03/07/2019. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

PushBack was first published in 2010 and revised in 2014. It’s a futuristic book where the story is set in 2033. The subtitle; Deficit Triggers Hyperinflation, Terrorism, describes a dire future for the United States as a result of unchecked deficits. Free copies of the ebook version of the book will be available starting Wednesday March 13, 2019 and through Sunday March 17, 2019.

When first published in 2010, twenty- three years before the PushBack story takes place there were concerns about the growing deficit and the future when social programs would require massive additional funding to remain viable. Since 2010 the deficit has continued to balloon and there has been little interest or effort in bringing spending and revenues into balance.

PushBack Summary

YOUNG AFRICAN AMERICAN LAWYER JIM REED seemingly has it all. Recently named a junior partner in an Atlanta law firm, Jim is shocked when he stops at his usual gas station and realizes the price of fuel has skyrocketed overnight to fifty dollars a gallon. It is 2033, and the world as Jim knows it is suddenly spinning wildly out of control. Sudden hyperinflation shocks everyone. As panic sets in, the value of the dollar plummets and the resulting devastation causes the United States to splinter into several countries, all of which adopt democratic rules except the Federated States, the one in which Jim Reed and girlfriend Linda Alonzo live. They find themselves citizens of a country governed by a white-supremacist dictatorship. Jim Reed joins a group of African American insurgents and finds himself involved in dangerous, bold attacks on Federated States targets. The insurrection causes the Federated States government to intern or exile the entire Federated States African American population. Reed goes into exile and as he recruits like-minded people to join together with the intent to destroy the Federated States Supremacist government, he conceives a plan that may just become the world’s greatest act of terrorism.

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What Goes Around Comes Around

Posted on 02/10/2019. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Comes Around

This 1931 cartoon could be used today without any changes. Even the depiction of the spreader of manure fits the current times. What goes around comes around.

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Medicare for All

Posted on 01/29/2019. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Dear Ms. Kamala Harris

I watched your Iowa town hall event last night. I was impressed. My first reaction is that you are a formidable democratic candidate for president, you would win the election and you would be a good president.

However, there is one of your positions that I take issue with. I do agree that Medicare for All is a viable path to universal health care for all the citizens of this country but do not agree that this would eliminate the need for private competing health care insurers. The government can be an effective provider of health insurance but historically the government is not a good manager of any business as complicated as health insurance. Private health care insurance companies play a part in the current Medicare system to provide supplemental insurance since Medicare only covers 80% of most medical expenses, but at the same time these private health insurance companies have become the de facto managers of the Medicare system and act as a counterbalance to health care providers. Medicare for All should retain this feature in the current Medicare system.  

Best wishes on your quest to be the democratic party’s candidate for president.

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EBook Give Away

Posted on 01/26/2019. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

The ebook version of Finding the Way: The Cold War Turns Hot in Korea and Why Young Men Went to War will be given away free on Amazon to anyone who request a copy beginning on February 1, 2019 through February 5, 2019 . The book can be found under Books and Author Alfred Wellnitz. ASIN BO7JPJR3CD

Two young South Dakota farm boys, Pete Houser and Chris Engleson, with uncertain futures decide to join the marines as an alternative to some other mundane job.
It is 1950 and they complete boot camp just as the Korean War suddenly erupts. Chris finds himself assigned to the First Provisional Marine Brigade being hurriedly put together to be deployed to Korea. Pete is assigned to a marine unit providing base security for the Sangley Point Naval Air Station in the Philippines. The story follows the lives of the two young men during the last six months of 1950 while Chris in Korea is involved in the Pusan Perimeter, Inchon and the Chosin Reservoir battles and Pete spends his time as a security guard in the Philippines. Over a short period of time Chris goes from a green farm boy to a seasoned warrior and Pete’s world expands quickly as he encounters unfamiliar moral standards and first love. The story alternates between Chris in Korea and Pete in the Philippines until the story comes to a surprising conclusion

From the Author

In writing For the CauseMy first plan had been to write a short novel, a novella, which would concentrate on the part of the For the Cause story that took place in the  Philippines. The two main characters, Pete and Chris, would appear in the novella with Pete in the Philippines and Chris in Korea but the Korean War would be in the background. However, as I researched the Korean War I began to understand the epic role played by the marines in the early months of that war. I had been in the Navy during the Korean War and spent two years during that time in the Far East as a crewman on navy reconnaissance planes. As involved as I had been in the Korean conflict I found I didn’t have an appreciation of the role played by the marines during that war. For example, I believed the Chosin Reservoir battle had been an embarrassing defeat for the marines. I learned during researching the subject that the Chosin Reservoir battle is considered to be one of the Marine Corps finest hours. I hadn’t understood the tremendous odds the marines had to overcome in the successful withdrawal from the Chosin Reservoir nor the background and politics that had put the marines in the exposed position they were in at the time. It occurred to me that if I, as a participant in the conflict, did not appreciate the pluck and skill shown by the marines during the conflict, most other people would have even a less complete knowledge of the Korean War and the role the US Marines played in it. The Korean War has been called the Forgotten War and I realized For the Cause could be a means of revealing some of its history so others could become more aware of what had occurred during the Korean war. As a result the book  For the Cause became a full length novel with an expanded purpose.

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Moon Landing

Posted on 01/16/2019. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

A Short Story

 

This is one of the short story’s to be included in a book of short stories based on that cold war that existed between Russia and the United States during a period from the late 1940’s to late 1980’s. In reflecting back over that time the author realized that he had spent much of his adult life involved in work or events associated with the cold war. This included seven years he served in the United States Navy and work he did during the thirty-three years as an electrical engineer in the defense industry. All of the stories were inspired by incidents that the author was aware of or involved in could have occurred during that time.

 

 

                                                       

MOON SHOT

 

   The Cold War was at its peak when President Kennedy first broached the idea of sending a man to the moon in a speech to a joint congressional audience in May of 1961. Part of the Cold War competition involved developing a superior capability in space and putting a man on the moon would be a dramatic demonstration of the United States capabilities. The idea had bipartisan congressional support and money was appropriated to explore the feasibility of the idea and develop a plan to execute landing men on the moon and retuning them safely to earth.

The United States industrial complex took notice immediately of the possibility of lucrative government contracts. No company could claim experience in landing a man on the moon, but any company that had ever gotten near a rocket or launch site, and some that never had, were eager to pitch their capabilities to lead or assist in an effort to land a man on the moon.

In 1962 the president was able to announce in Houston, the city where the national space center would be located, the plan to develop the capabilities to fly men to the moon and return them to the earth by the end of the decade.

Companies sniffing out the Moon Landing contract possibilities included the Data Action Corporation (DAC) Government Systems Division located in Minneapolis Minnesota. The DAC Government Systems management asked their Washington marketing people to beat the bushes to see if they could find opportunities related to the moon landing program.

The Washington DAC sales office had been put together recently and was thin in experience and contacts, particularly with regards to NASA since the fledgling company had never worked on any NASA contracts. The DAC sales person eventually selected to lead the DAC effort was a hillbilly from the hills of Tennessee named Dan Dagart. Dan, like the other people in the office, had no previous experience with NASA programs or contacts with people in the NASA orbit. However the leads he had been chasing turned out to be dry holes so was looking for something to do. So he had become the logical choice to check out the NASA possibilities.

Dan had been hired recently. His resume indicated he had been knocking around Washington for a while working for mostly tech companies pitching equipment and services to federal agencies or prime contractors for use in in military programs.  

Dan’s parents were tobacco farmers with moonshine as a sideline. Dan wasn’t interested in the tobacco part of the family business but considered moonshine as a future. He changed his mind about the business when his parents got busted and decided to explore other options. Despite the difficulties the parents were experiencing, the family moonshine business had provided for a substantial sum of assets safely hidden from Federal Agent eyes which could be tapped by Dan.Surprisingly, Dan decided to use some of those funds for educational purposes and enrolled in a local college. He didn’t know what he wanted to study but wanted it to be something useful. His student advisor said something to do with technology would be good. However, the only thing the college had close to technology was general science so Dan got a BA in General Science and went to Washington to find a job,

Dan had a way with people, and made friends easily. Women seemed attracted to Dan although it wasn’t obvious why. Physically Dan was on the short side, five-feet-seven inches tall, average build, receding straight black hair. However he had a gift of gab and a southern drawl that put women at ease on first contact.

Back in Minneapolis there was a group in the DAC Government Systems Division designated as Marketing Support. It was made up mostly of engineers that found their expertize was not in design, analysis, documenting, trouble shooting of inanimate objects, but more into the people to people interaction that goes on with any human activity. Other engineers, who were especially creative and productive, were promoted out of work they liked and were put into Marketing Support where they were often a poor fit. And there always seemed to be few misfits in Marketing Support gamming the system, talking the talk but faking their level of expertise.

As a starting point in Dan’s efforts to find support for his NASA efforts, he decided to contact DAC Marketing Support to see if they had any people that had any NASA experience or contacts.  Things didn’t look promising, but Bert Johonson, Manager of DAC Government Systems Marketing Support thought that a person collocated at the Washington office at the time might have some ideas about NASA. His name is John Forsum.   

John Forsum was a Minneapolis native whose family had money. John never wanted for much. He attended University of Minnesota and earned a BA in history. He took part in the Navy Officer Training Corps while in college and took flight training and flew F9F fighters during his active duty obligation. The navy service and connections got John a job with DAC in Government Systems Marketing Support.

 John spent much of his time in Washington and had appropriated an unused space in the DAC Washington office for his own use. John had a way of working the system for his own benefit.

John had a wife and two children who didn’t see much of him since   he spent so much time in Washington and long hours at work and with customers when in Minneapolis.  He was a people person and enjoyed entertaining customers visiting Minneapolis or when he visited customers out of town.  His wife didn’t complain but had mentioned at times and in different ways that she wished he didn’t have to work so hard and could spend more time with the family. John considered himself to be a good provider and felt that satisfied his primary family obligation.

Dan found John Forsum ensconced in a small office outside of the DAC Government Systems office area and in what was a larger DAC Commercial Systems Marketing part of the building. They introduced themselves. John explained his isolated office space. “My real office is in Minneapolis but most of my business is in Washington so I appropriated this office for my own use; spend much of my time in Washington.”

“Per diem expenses paid?” Dan asked.

“Of course,” John replied.

“What a deal!” The two of them took an immediate liking for each other. 

Dan explained why he had come looking for John. “John, I’m looking for some somebody in our organization that knows something about NASA, has contacts in NASA. No luck so far. They tell me Government Systems hasn’t done any business with NASA but tell me to talk to John Forsum anyway.

John laughed. “That sounds like a hell of a recommendation.”

Dan agreed. “That’s what I thought but here I am.”

They talked about life in general for a while before John got back to the subject at hand. “I’m thinking,” he said, “Of an old drinking buddy when I was in the Navy. I flew wing with him in Korea. Pete Winter, he was crazy. I haven’t kept in contact with him but I understand he has risen to a level of some importance in NASA; might be worth a try.”

Dan laughed, “I would call that a shot in the dark, not a contact. I’m assuming you’ll get right on it.”

 

 John located his old wing mate. Not too hard to do if the person you’re looking for is at an upper level in the NASA command structure. Pete had his office in Houston where the Space Center was being built but he visited Washington regularly, so they agreed to meet the following week when Pete would be in Washington. They met at a favorite restaurant for contractors and government people procuring items for the military or NASA programs. It was expensive, a plus for the government people since the contractors always picked up the check.

They had a substantial lunch and a drink or two and talked about life on a carrier and favorite liberty ports. Eventually John moved the discussion to the moon landing and what part Pete was playing in the program.

“My concern is pre-launch checkout,” Pete replied, “Making sure everything is working before we launch.

“Sounds like a good idea. After launch it’s a little late to find a problem. What you guys are attempting seems out of this world. A lot of people. including myself, wonder if this is possible. I know you have that big rocket, the Atlas, but I don’t think you will be landing it on the moon.

“Some physicists at Redstone have come up with the way it’s going to be done,” Pete replied.  “When I first heard how they were planning to do it, my first reaction was, ‘there is no way that will work. NASA has put together an animation about it, looks scarier than flying an F9 off a carrier. The physicists at Redstone say it isn’t only the best way to do it; it’s the only way to do it. They have this spacecraft that will carry three people with hardly space for two that will fly to the moon and then orbit around it. This spacecraft has a moon lander attached to it. While the space craft orbits the moon the lander will be detached with two astronauts in it and descend and land on the moon.  After they land they will look around and walk around for a while and plant a flag. Then they get back in their lander take off and rendezvous’ with the orbiting spacecraft which then returns to earth and they splash down somewhere in the Pacific Ocean where they hope somebody will pick them up.

“What are the odds of that happening?” John asked. “Don’t know if I would trust those physicist if I was an astronaut. Imagine being in that lander. Say you bang up the lander, can’t take off. You’re done. Nobody you can call for help. Maybe you do get off the moon and then can’t connect up with the spacecraft. Nobody had ever done this for real before. You’re done.”

Pete agreed but the physicists say they have the math that proves that it can be done the way they are describing it, and astronauts are lining and clamoring to make the trip. “Go figure.”

“Anyway,” John said, “I’m not here to critic the Redstone physicist, I’m here to see if there is anything the company I represent can contribute to this crazy plan “

“For starters,” Pete replied, “We are looking for off-the-shelf hardware that can do the job where ever possible. Space used to be about the future, the moon shot is about today. It’s has to be done today with today’s technology. Main reason for that is we have to beat the Russians; so there’s no time to invent new things. We are going to use off-the-shelf components as much as possible.”

John asked about computers, “You going to use off-the-shelf computers?”

“Everything is on the table,” Pete replied. “Computers are key to an automated pre-launch checkout system. We would like to find one that can do the job. At the same time we don’t want to compromise; that computer and every other component in the checkout system has to be as good as we can make it. We want to ensure everything is working perfectly on that bird when it’s launched.

John guessed the astronauts would second that idea. “Who is looking for these off-the-shelf components,” John asked.

 Pete said NASA’s Preflight Operations located in Daytona was scouring the country looking for components off-the-shelf. Computers was one of them. Pete volunteered to look up who John needed to contact in Preflight to discuss computers with.

John felt like he had hit a home run when he left the meeting with Pete. Optimism was a necessary characteristic for those marketing to the federal government military and space markets; otherwise it could be a career of disappointments. John had been spinning his wheels during the six years he had been at DAC, He had participated in putting together proposal after proposal. Small ones, big ones, proposals they should have won, proposals they shouldn’t have bid on. John felt the moon program could be a big win. Winning a big one was what every marketing person in the business hoped for, the kind of contract that could keep the Government Systems Division in business for years.

Dan contacted Ben Hauge, the person in Preflight Operations that Pete Winter had referred them to. Ben had a loud intimidating telephone voice but sounded interested in having DAC describe what they had to satisfy the computer requirement.

Dan mentioned the DAC6A as a possibility. Ben had heard about the computer, Said they were using it on the Gemini program.

Technical details weren’t Dan’s strength but knew some of the highlights of the DAC6A. Dan described it as a small computer, a mini computer but it can run FORTRAN so is pretty capable. Dan asked if NASA had documented the requirements for the computer they were looking for.

“We have,” Ben replied. “They are in a state of flux but should be good enough to figure out what the computer has to do. I’ll send you a copy. What kind of price we talking about for the DAC6A”

 “The basic unit is about $50, 000,” Dan replied.

 Ben acted surprised “That’s interesting,” He said.

They agreed on a date to meet in Daytona in January 1962 when DAC could pitch their computer solution.

 

John and Dan huddled, they needed a budget, and they needed technical people who knew something about computers. John and Dan could recognize a computer if they saw one but that was about the level of their knowledge on the subject.

John would work on lining up the technical people they would need. Dan would come to Minneapolis, despite an approaching winter, to help get the funds they would need to pursue the opportunity.

John talked to Max Heimer, manager of Government Systems Design, about support for the NASA opportunity.

“This another one of your wild goose chases,” Max asked.

“I’m going to get a contract so you can keep your job.” John replied.” I’ll need some of your best people for this job.”

Max wasn’t impressed, “Show me what we need to do, and I’ll tell who we have available to work on it.

John and Max had worked together often, and communications were informal, direct and unfiltered.

John handed Max a copy of the draft computer requirements that NASA Ben Hauge had sent to Dan Dagart

“You got a charge number? Max asked.

“Charge overhead while I get a number approved.”

“Easier to get a proposal number than charge to overhead.”

“Jes, how many hours do you need? We have mentioned the DAC6A as a candidate, only thing we could think of. While you are eating your lunch you can scan the requirements and figure out if the DAC6A can do the job. If it can’t then we’ll have figure out what we have to do to make the DAC6 able to do the job or something else that will work.”

 “OK. Means I’ll miss playing duplicate bridge during lunch. You’ll owe me.”

“Like I said, I’ll get us a contract so you can keep your job.

 

The next morning John checked with Max to see what he had learned about the requirements.

Max sat in his office drinking his first cup of coffee from the department party sized perk. Max was and looked like the consummate engineer. Horned rim glasses, in need of a haircut, tie with minor food stains, a pocket protector with two number two pencils and a six inch slid rule. He looked slightly malnourished and seemed to look past you when he talked to you

 He greeted John, “Hell, I was wasting my time. If you had read a page or two to the requirements even you could have figured out the DAC6A wouldn’t cut it.”

“True, but I had to get an expert opinion.”

“OK, so now if you are serious about this you will have to put a logic guy and a programmer on and a memory guy and a guy to concentrate on the input output peripherals, oh and a mechanical, everything will have to be repackaged. Even the cabinet colors will be coordinated with the rest of the preflight checkout system. You can say the components, most circuit boards and memory modules are off-the-shelf but everything has to be put together in a different way. What I’m describing is what we need to invent in order to meet NASA’s the requirements and then cost the non-recurring and recurring cost to put together a prototype and fourteen Acceptance Checkout Equipment (ACE) production computer systems. Don’t know if division management will spend that kind of money on something they have never heard about before. It might be some NASA engineer’s wet dream. Oh, and the twelve bite word the DAC6A uses, not going to work. Because this computer has to run in a DAC6A mode and in the new configuration mode, there are not enough bits in the word for all of the new instructions.”   

“Sounds like you are designing something from scratch, where does the DAC6A fit in?” John asked.

“Maybe we can save the logo, not much else. They are asking for complete redundancy between two main frames with remote memories shared by both computers and two redundant input output (I/O) modules with redundant peripherals shared by both computer systems. It’s quiet a maze. They describe an interrupt system that has to be invented. We need 16,000 (16K) core memories in the computer main frames and double that in the remote memory modules. This is not a DAC6A.”

“How in hell are we going to sell something like you describe as off-the-shelf?”

“Want my take on this off-the-shelf thing?” Max asked. Then proceeded without an answer to his question, “Well somebody up there, way up there decided they could save a lot of money and time if they got all the stuff they needed to check the rocket, the space capsule, the moon lander with off-the-shelf equipment. Just hook all those off-the-shelf things together and turn the power on. At the same time some engineers down at the bottom, way down at the bottom are figuring out the details of how to check out this spacecraft and everything associated with it to make sure it is working perfectly before it blast off for the moon, Those engineers don’t care how the hardware to do this is procured, they just care that it able to do what it has to do.”

“Ok,” John said, “So how does that solve the off the shelf problem for us?

“That’s your part to figure out,” Max replied. “One thing I can assure you of is that competition hasn’t anything off-the-shelf that can meet those requirements either.

 

John met Dan when he arrived to help sell the program to division management, and informed him things were getting a little complicated.

“How’s that? Dan asked,

“The NASA computer requirements and DAC6A have nothing in common,” John replied.

“Sounds like we will hafta earn our pay,” Dan said. “It’ll probably be easier to sell this to NASA than the front office.”

“What are we going to sell?” John wanted to know.

“Whatever meets NASA’s requirements,” Dan replied. “Maybe we should be calling it something different that the DAC6A if it’s a different machine.”

They mulled that over for a while.

John thought they should keep the DAC6 part of the name so it sounded more off-the-shelf. Dan agreed and they named it the DAC6G, the “G” denoting its Government Systems connection.

 

Management did authorize spending money to configure a system to meet the NASA’s computer requirements and to cost it out. The proposal crew worked over the holidays to nail down the design concepts. They used circuit components, circuit boards and memory modules from commercial systems that were in production. Some new circuit boards would have to be developed. The word length was modified. Another bit was added to make it a thirteen bit machine to handle the expanded instruction set. Everything had to be repackaged to meet NASA’s requirement for standard cabinet design.

 

The cost numbers had come together with marketing and program managers fighting with the production and engineering managers to keep the costs down.  Recurring price to NASA for an ACE computer system came in at approximately $200,000 with normal markups and with no development costs included.

John and Dan worked the NASA connections they had and determined that NASA had budgeted about half what Government Systems estimated what the recurring cost would be. They had also determined that many of the budget estimates for the Moon Landing program were derived by throwing numbers at a wall and if they stuck NASA used them. So, those were flexible numbers and bought Max Heimer’s guess that meeting the requirements were more important than NASA cost estimates.

John and Dan knew the numbers Government Systems had come up were reasonable and justifiable for what NASA was asking for. The numbers had been messaged as much as they could be. To manufacture something that met NASA’s requirements would cost NASA in the neighborhood of $200,000

 That number did not include any development costs. Again, based on what they could find out from NASA contacts and from their gut feeling, John and Dan concluded NASA would pay the development costs for the stand alone memory and I/O modules. However, NASA would be assuming they were getting a modified DAC6A computer as the main frame for the ACE computer system and would not pay directly for any of its development cost. That despite the fact that nothing resembling what was being proposed had ever been built before.

Development cost for the main frame computer was estimated to be a million dollars. Marketing gurus John Forsum and Dan Dagart had a million dollar problem.

They decided they should plan a long lunch at one of the 494 watering holes to help concentrate their thinking. They invited Max Heimer the design manager to join them, but he declined and opted to play duplicate bridge during lunch.

They had started on their second martini before confronting their million dollar problem.  

John mentioned that there being two main frames computers in each system would make the problem a little easier. 

Dan agreed, “How many times does twenty-eight go into a million, I never was any good at math.”

John got out a pen, did the calculation on a napkin. “It’s still a big number, about thirty-seven thousand times.”

Dan agreed “You know what we have to do. We have to have a bigger number in the denominator. We gotta sell this computer to more customers.”

John had been down that road before but not in the direct line of fire. “Government Systems isn’t in that line of business. Government Systems don’t invest company money to develop products.” He said. “The last people that tried that aren’t around anymore. Besides, this is really a commercial product. We aren’t in that market.”

The martinis were slowing down Dan’s thinking. Finally he asked John what we get if we divide the million by fifty.

John, apparently still alert came back with twenty thousand without doing the calculation.

“That’s the number we will use,” Dan declared.

“Didn’t you hear me?” John asked. “We don’t do that kind of thing in Government Systems.

Dan apparently wasn’t paying attention to what John was saying, replied, “We’ll have commercial put it in their catalog.”

John’s problem was that he wanted to believe Dan, he wanted to believe Max Heimer and his crew had come up with something that could be sold despite Government Systems past failures trying to do similar things, Despite his doubts he began exploring the path Dan was leading them down,

John pointed out that even if they did what Dan was talking about they would be exceeding the target price of $200,000.

“But by less. Dan replied. “It could be manageable, we could massage the numbers some more, management take less net, maybe exceed the target by say five thousand.”

John pointed out that in the real world management wouldn’t gamble a half a million dollars to win this contract. They aren’t that dumb or desperate.  

“I’m not sure about the last part of what you just said. Dan replied. “They are in pretty bad need of some new business. I move we amortize the DAC6G non-recurring over fifty units and see where the chips fall.

John didn’t agree with Dan but his mind was burdened by the three martinis recently consumed and couldn’t come up with anything better than Dan was proposing.

 “Remember,” Dan was saying, “we are in this together. We are going to convince management to do what they need to do to win this contract.

John wasn’t focusing on what Dan was saying. He was thinking about what he would do when he was fired.

Before leaving the restaurant John sketched their plan on a napkin. “Never going remember what we talked about when we get back to the office,” John said.

 

DAC Government Systems Division was headed by a General Manager named Robert Glassman. Robert Glassman had held that position for a little over a year. Tenure of general managers of the Government Systems Division had a history of being short lived. Competition for government contracts in the defense and technology business was brutal. The Government Systems Division general managers were expected to grow the business and profits in this competitive market. Historically the proceeding general managers were able to grow the business or profits, but not both simultaneously. Bidding low might grow the business but hurt profits while maintaining profits might cost business growth.

Glassman felt confident enough that he could be successful that he moved his family from Boston to the Twin Cities and bought a home in a tony suburb. That was in spite of the fact that Glassman had moved his family half a dozen times while moving from company to company. During that process he had moved up from engineer to a division management level in the last two companies where he had worked. That was level in management is somewhat equivalent to a Marine First Lieutenant leading an infantry platoon in combat. High casualties.

The pressure of the job had left its marks on Robert Glassman. In his fifties, he was prematurely grey, smoked heavily and had not tried to remain physically fit and succeeded. However he maintained a dominating presence in the space he occupied. Managing was his natural habitat and where he wanted to be.      

Glassman had been kept informed of the ACE opportunity and the latest developments as had staff that would that would be approving the design and cost estimates. Glassman had a computer background and understood that the redundant capabilities being proposed would provide computer system reliability not previously feasible. He and division management were impressed by the computer system being proposed to satisfy ACE system requirements.

Goldman and his staff gathered in early January to review the final design and prices division had worked up to present to NASA in Daytona the following week.

Max Heimer, system design manager, presented final design information. Max had had become enamored with what his design team came up with and it showed in his presentation. It was a system he would like to see built.

Glassman and staff didn’t have a lot of questions about the design or capabilities of the computer and seemed satisfied with what they were shown

John Forsum gave the cost and price part of the presentation and the first item projected on the screen was a recurring price for a ACE computer system as $212,000.

John and Dan had hoped to squeeze more cost out of operations, but the costs had been squeezed to the point where there was no squeeze left. Program Management cut an assistant and contributed a three-thousand-dollar reduction to the recurring cost. They had arbitrarily reduced the fee by five thousand dollars to get the recurring price down to $212,000 which didn’t raise any alarm from management, nor did exceeding the original price goal by twelve thousand dollars raise any questions. The non-recurring development cost for the external memory and I/O units were included in the bid as expected. However, the development cost for the DAC6G mainframe didn’t show up anywhere.  

 “Did you forget something?” Goldman asked, “The cost of the computer module that has to be a big chunk of it.”

John explained to Glassman and his staff that NASA expected the DAC6G to be off shelf and not have to pay for the development of that part of the ACE system. Therefore the estimated million dollar development cost of the DAC6G would be amortized at twenty thousand dollars per unit sold over fifty units.

At that point in the presentation Glassman developed a stunned look on his face and the staff exchanged surprised looks.

“Why?” Goldman asked, “Why is the DAC6G development being amortized over fifty units. I believe NASA is buying fourteen production systems.”

John explained there were two DAC6G computers in each ACE system for a total of twent-eight computers and that NASA is looking for off-the-shelf hardware where possible and we’ve promoted the DAC6G as off-the-shelf. Marketing is projecting that other military, NASA and commercial applications will find the DAC6G a contender for systems needing fail safe high reliability.”

“When did twenty-eight become fifty?” Glassman asked.

Again John explained that we have determined NASA is expecting the DAC6G to be off the shelf and if we include all of the non-recurring in the DAC6G price we would not be competitive.

  “Who is we?” Glassman asked.

The question caused John to realize that the “we” had been Dan and himself. They had been doing the NASA briefings and planting the idea that the “G” version of the DAC6 was off-the-shelf.

“Well, a lot of people” John replied.

“Be more specific, I like to know who I need to fire.”

John felt like he was taking part in a circular firing squad that would include Goldman and underlings such as himself. John didn’t answer the question directly. His mind was rebelling. It was thinking why he was putting his job in jeopardy by trying to convince the division what a good deal winning the ACE contract would be. Meanwhile his mouth went on talking, it was saying, “DAC has all but got this contract wrapped up if it comes in with a competitive price. The division needs this contract and we can win it. We just have to have the guts to do what we have to do to win it.”   

Glassman wasn’t buying what John’s mouth was selling, he wanted to know who exactly would buy the other twenty-two computers.

John and Dan had anticipated Glassman’s question and had prepared an analysis of the market potential for the DAC6G justifying the fifty unit amortization. They didn’t have the time or money to do a real analysis so between them wrote one based on their collective knowledge, common sense and what they thought would sell.

Dan distributed a copy of the analysis to Glassman and the rest of the staff. The top page of analysis was a summary of the underlying details.

Dan took over the presentation to explain the analysis much to John’s relief. Dan had the advantage of not being threatened by Glassman since he reported to a different management chain. Of course during any management explosion there was always the danger of being hit by stray shrapnel, 

The analysis summary provided an optimistic assessment of the DAC6G market potential. It described potential military and NASA applications and also applications in the commercial financial market. It also pointed to a market of standalone computers in the $100,000 price range.

Glassman didn’t appear to be hearing any of it. His voice became louder as he asked “What in hell are you guys thinking?  We don’t have a budget for carrying any of the development cost on the books; Government Systems isn’t in that kind of business.”

Dan didn’t like the way the meeting was going. The DAC inside track on the procurement was about to be scuttled because of how the company was organized. He and John had worked hard and smart on this procurement. OK, so maybe we sold something we don’t exactly have, but not something that can’t be done. OK, DAC needs to take some financial risks to ensure we sew up the procurement.  So what else is new? It’s that kind of business.

Dan practiced remaining cool and calm during customer and management presentations regardless of the circumstances, He believed this was more effective than debating issues on the fly or displaying anger. However, at this particular meeting on this particular day, Dan lost his cool. “Excuse me,” he said,” John and I have been busting our buts on this job and we know we can win it.  “Because of our nearly off-the-shelf computer is able to satisfy the ACE system requirement we are in a favored position to win this program. If we include the full DAC6G development cost in our proposal we lose that advantage. This is a big chunk of business for our division; it establishes DAC as a NASA supplier in a significant historical event. I know and everyone in this room knows this division is starving for new business and this is a solution.”

“Nearly off-the-shelf,” Glassman huffed, “The numbers don’t support that.

However, Dan’s last argument touched Glassman in a vulnerable place. The ACE program would be a big chunk of business for the division, something needed and needed soon to replace programs being completed and phasing out. Winning would as always entail financial and technical risks. It was these thoughts that caused Glassman to dismiss the presentation team from the conference room and Glassman and his staff would discuss the proposal being presented. They would call Dan and John back after they concluded the meeting.

 Two hours later Dan and John were called back into the conference room and were told the decision to approve the ACE proposal as prepared had been made with the provision that DAC Defense Group Management would support the amortization of the DAC6G development, and that marketing would commit to selling least twenty-two DAC6G’s to other customers as a priority.

Getting the marketing commitment would not be a problem, they would commit to selling refrigerators to Eskimos if asked. Defense Group Management would be a different matter. Permission was granted eventually but Glassman was made aware that his job depended on the sale of fifty or more DAC6G computers. In turn Glassman assured John Forsum his job depended on the sale of at least fifty or more DAC6G computers.

 

 DAC Government Systems Division won the ACE computer system contract and proceeded to meet a very tight schedule. They had less than two years to deliver the prototype, serial zero, to the Cape early in 1964 where it would be used to verify computer programs. Many long days and weekends were spent by DAC employees and they did meet the schedule. In July of 1964 the components of the first production ACE system were shipped to North American in Downey California where it would be used to check out Apollo Spacecraft. Thirteen additional ACE systems were supplied to NASA. Two more at Downey, three at the Grumman Bethpage plant to check out the moon lander, two at Houston and six at the Cape.

 

While the DAC Government Division scrambled to fulfill the requirements of the ACE contract, Dan and John scrambled to fulfill the sale of an additional twenty-two DAC6G computers.

When the prototype ACE system was being installed early in 1964, they had not succeeded in inking a contract for single DAC6G or for a redundant system like that being used in the ACE system. John and Dan had a pretty good handle on the military and NASA prospects and couldn’t identify one for an ACE type system.

“Maybe we should have studied this a little before coming up with that fifty number” John suggested at one of their numerous come to Jesus meetings at a local bar near the DAC Washington office.”

 “Not necessarily,” Dan replied, “We have to go with what we have, which is basically a pretty impressive commercial computer at a reasonable price with a lot of expansion and redundancy capability.”

 “We have no contacts in the commercial world, DAC commercial doesn’t want anything to do with it,” John replied. “Maybe putting an IBM name plate on the DAC6G would help.”

 

Although handicapped by lack of commercial computer sales experience and DAC’s recognition as a major commercial computer supplier, two ACE type systems were sold to a Wall Street financial firm that liked the reliability potential of the highly redundant system. However, the four DAC6G’s that were part of the system was far short of the twenty-two needed to satisfy the Defense Group Management requirement.

 

True to the stipulation that Glassman’s job depended on the sale of at least fifty DAC6G computers by the end of the ACE program, he was invited to seek his opportunities at a place other than DAC.  However, before Glassman had been given the opportunity to leave, he had provided the same opportunity for John Forsum and would have done the same for Dan Dagart but Dan reported to a different chain of command.

John soon found a similar position with another defense industry company in St. Louis and he put DAC and the moon landing business behind him.  At the same time John resolved not let a job that might not have his best interest in mind rule his life. His priority became family, which the family noticed and appreciated. He was home most evenings, got involved in the children’s activities and remembered birthdays and anniversaries.

 On 20 July 1969 he had been visiting a company on Long Island New York. After an early afternoon meeting he went to Kennedy Airport to catch a plane that would take him back to St. Louis. While walking through the airport lobby he noticed people crowding around a TV monitor. It reminded him that the moon landing was to happen that day and here it was, pictures from the Eagle as the Lunar Lander settled down on the moon at the Tranquility Base. John felt a strong reaction to the scene on the TV monitor.

He was watching a historic moment in the human experience in real time and he had contributed to making that happen. Man had broken free of the earth’s gravitational force and traveled into space and landed on another celestial body. Ordinary people doing ordinary things working together can-do extraordinary things. Such a thing has occurred to cause this moment that will never be forgotten by humankind.

All the ups and downs of that experience, like losing his job and having to move to different city didn’t matter at that moment.

 

 

Copyright © 2019 by Alfred Wellnitz

 

All rights reserved. No part of this story may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, names, incidents, organizations, and dialogue in this short story are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author.

 

 

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“Finding the Way” Free Book

Posted on 11/20/2018. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Finding the Way, was the first book I published and my best if you believe the reviews. It was published in 2004 and revised in 2015. Free copies of the e book version will be available on Amazon starting on Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2018 and continuing through Monday November 26, 2018. 

The story  is fictional but based loosely on some of the facts I knew about my fraternal grandfather who immigrated from Prussia. I did not personally know my grandfather who died when I was three years old. The information I have was a ship passenger list, census information, and what my father and an aunt revealed. I wish I would have mined more family information from my father and aunt but that wish came too late. My advise to anyone interested in family history; get as much from living senior family members as you can.  

Finding the Way Story Summary:

Karl Mueller, son of a Prussian peasant family undertakes a long journey in order to reach his goal to homestead land in America. Karl meets companion Heinrich Schlicter on the ship taking him on the first step of what becomes a seven year odyssey. The two remain friends and partners as they travel across the young country and encounter hardship, love, adventure and danger while Karl pursues his goal. Karl’s first priority is to accumulate enough money to finance his homestead plans. The quest to accumulate the needed stake takes the two young men to Chicago’s notorious meat-packing plants, to a Wisconsin lumber camp, and to the Black Hills 1876 gold rush. While in the Black Hills, Karl falls in love with a mixed blood Lakota Indian woman who helps him redefine his goal and to understand who he really is.
A blending of history and social issues with a compelling story makes Finding the Way entertaining and informative reading.

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Book Giveaway

Posted on 11/11/2018. Filed under: Uncategorized |

There will be a giveaway of the book “PushBack ; Deficit Triggers Hyperinflation, Terrorism.” 

The giveaway starts Thursday November 15 and continues through Monday November 19. 

I first thought about a book like this soon after 9/11 when the war to eliminate terrorism was initiated by the Bush administration. My thoughts at the time were that you cannot eliminate terrorism. Terrorism is not an identity that you can do battle with, defeat and have it surrender. It is a noun in the English language. It is not going to go away no matter how many people are killed, or for that matter terrorized. 

I let the idea simmer until 2005 when I started to write a book about good terrorist. Remember the resistance forces in World War Two in France, Poland, Norway, Yugoslavia and elsewhere. They were good terrorist. I found it a difficult book to write.  I spent five years writing and rewriting and was never completely satisfied with it but one must give up or say it is finished. I did publish it and got some really bad reviews. I updated it, eliminated three chapters and republished it. It has not gotten much attention but neither have my other books. But the reviews have been better.

Summary of PushBack:

YOUNG AFRICAN AMERICAN LAWYER JIM REED seemingly has it all. Recently named a junior partner in an Atlanta law firm, Jim is shocked when he stops at his usual gas station and realizes the price of fuel has skyrocketed overnight to fifty dollars a gallon. It is 2033, and the world as Jim knows it is suddenly spinning wildly out of control. Sudden hyperinflation shocks everyone. As panic sets in, the value of the dollar plummets and the resulting devastation causes the United States to splinter into several countries, all of which adopt democratic rules except the Federated States, the one in which Jim Reed and girlfriend Linda Alonzo live. They find themselves citizens of a country governed by a white-supremacist dictatorship. Jim Reed joins a group of African American insurgents and finds himself involved in dangerous, bold attacks on Federated States targets. The insurrection causes the Federated States government to intern or exile the entire Federated States African American population. Reed goes into exile and as he recruits like-minded people to join together with the intent to destroy the Federated States Supremacist government, he conceives a plan that may just become the world’s greatest act of terrorism.

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Short Story; Memphis 1948

Posted on 11/10/2018. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Author Foreword

I attended Aviation Technician classes at the Naval Air Technical Training Center near Memphis in 1948. At the time the United States military services were becoming fully integrated while the south including Memphis remained segregated as defined by Jim Crow laws. This resulted in conflicting practices in how people of different races interacted depending if they were located inside the Naval Technical Training Center or outside of it.

I had grown up in rural South Dakota and never had contact with non-white people of any kind before entering the navy. I can remember seeing only one black person in the town near our farm before I left in my late teens. When confronted with southern segregation I hadn’t developed any strong opinions on the subject. However, I did not feel comfortable with the practice. On its face it seemed immoral and conflicted with many of the basic principles on which our country had been founded. My memories of that 1948 experience are the basis for the Memphis 1948 story.

Memphis 1948

The Isaiah and his wife Sarah were Negro sharecroppers who lived in the Mississippi Delta and farmed twenty-four acres of cotton on land owned by Ed Sharpton. They had one son named Tyler.

Isaiah was a descendent of three generations of the Williams family which had lived in the Mississippi Delta as slaves, field hands, land owners and finally share croppers. Isaiah’s father had been a decedent of a slave mother and father and worked as a field hand and accumulated enough money and good enough credit to buy eighty acres of rich delta land. Isaiah had inherited the eighty acres with an outstanding mortgage in 1910, a time when Negroes were facing increasing political pressure and finding it difficult to obtain credit. In 1920 Isaiah lost the farm and became a sharecropper.

During the same time Ed Sharpton was buying up land being lost by bankrupt Negroes, using credit unavailable to Negroes. At one time in the late 1800’s, Negroes owned two-thirds of the rich delta land. By the 1920’s they had lost most of it.

In order for Ed Sharpton to utilize the land he had accumulated he broke it into small plots for sharecroppers to farm. Ed furnished the land, a mule, plows, other tools to work the land, seed and fertilizer and a shack without electricity or running water for the family to live in. For this he would receive half of whatever was produced by the sharecropper on the land. Ed wouldn’t let any of the sharecroppers to use any of the land for such things as gardens. All the land had to go into cotton. In addition, all the sharecropper’s shacks were bunched together in a hamlet with no room for yards or gardens. The shacks were part of a hamlet that included mule barns, sheds filled with plows and other field tools, and a warehouse for fertilizers and seeds. Also, in the hamlet was a store owned by Ed Sharpton where sharecroppers bought necessities.

Each year the crop yield would depend on many variables such as if there was the right amount of rain, if the boll weevil would be problem, if plant diseases effected the crop, or if Ed provided enough fertilizer. At the end of the year, when the crop was harvested, Ed Sharpton would buy the Willian’s family share of the crop at a price determined by the Ed. What the William’s received at that time would be their only source of income until the next harvest.

If the money ran out before the next harvest the family had only one place to get credit to buy the necessities the family needed. That was the store Ed Sharpton ran. As a result, most or all of the William’s family share of the crop might be needed to pay for the necessities they bought on credit at the store during the previous year.

In the spring of 1940 Isaiah was nearing his mid-fifties. He was all bone and muscle, slightly stooped over. He had turned grey prematurely, had lost most of his teeth and his face had wrinkled from spending many years working the fields in the heat of summer. Sarah was only a few years younger than Isaiah but didn’t display the signs of aging in the way Isaiah had. Her face skin was smooth and her hair a mass of black ringlets. Not that Sarah didn’t work hard. During the summer and fall she hoed and picked cotton beside Isaiah and did the family cooking and washed the cloths in a wash tub. Sarah was just one of those people that didn’t seem to age. Tyler appeared to be a typical eleven-year-old boy, a string bean who couldn’t get enough to eat. However, if one knew him well, he wasn’t a typical eleven-year-old boy. He had the bright shining eyes of youth but they often seemed to be looking beyond where there was anything to see and his mind also seemed to be in that far off place.

As an eleven-year-old, Tyler also worked in the fields. Tyler’s father Isaiah had gone to school for four years and had a rudimentary ability to read and do figures while Sarah had never attended school. Despite this meager experience with education the two of them made certain that Tyler went to the one room, one teacher school for Negroes where grades one through six were thought. Children of other sharecroppers often sent their children to the school when they didn’t have anything better to do. Tyler’s parents sent him because they wanted him to learn. It worked out well because Tyler liked school and also wanted to learn.

Sarah had wanted her boy to go to school as most mothers would. Isaiah had a more personal reason why he wanted Tyler to go to school. Isaiah believed he had lost his farm in part because he had an inadequate education.  He signed contracts he couldn’t read and knew nothing about the laws that allowed his farm to be taken away from him. He didn’t want that to happen to his son,

The school was a shack similar to those the sharecroppers lived in. Miss Brown, the teacher was a big black woman with an attitude. She had a limited wardrobe but managed to dress neatly every day in a clean dress. Miss Brown had been teaching single room multiple class schools for fifteen years before taking over the share cropper school. She maintained order and discipline doing whatever the situation required and the students who didn’t understand this soon became educated. For this she had the use of one of sharecropper shacks, was paid ten dollars cash every month and had credit to buy twenty dollars’ worth of supplies and food from Ed’s store every month.

Despite her rough exterior Miss Brown loved every child she ever thought and, Tyler was no exception. However, Tyler was exceptional, the best student she ever had. It was apparent soon after he had started the first grade. He wanted to know everything about everything and had the capacity to absorb all the knowledge Miss Brown could provide. Miss Brown’s concern was that what she could provide was limited by her abilities and the school’s resources. The books the school had were twenty-year-old work books designed for children learning to read and do basic arithmetic. They were not knowledge books that Tyler needed. Miss Brown had been around long enough to know talking to the county superintendent would be like talking to the sky and a waste of time. As an alternative Miss Brown decided to talk to Ed Sharpton.

Ed Sharpton spent a lot of his time in the store and Miss Brown approached him one day about the school’s needs.

“Mr. Ed” Miss Brown said, “I know your interested in educaten sharecropper children. Always said you were. I’d like da thank you for that. Now I have this problem that you kin help on. I need more books. Some of da high grades need books bout history, geography, grammar, things like that.

Ed laughed, “Niggers don’t have a need for anythen but lernen how to read a little an some rithmatic. You don’t wanna get fancy ideas in their heads.” With those words Ed left the store to tend to something.

Miss Sally Bates, the white woman who tended the store six days a week spoke up after Ed had left. Miss Bates, and Miss Brown had become casual friends. Miss Brown came into the store often to pick up groceries and other items, and if things were slow at the store as they often were, they enjoyed visiting for a while.

“Miss Brown,” Miss Bates said, “Maybe I can help you. I use the library in Clarksdale, I can borrow up to three books at a time for three weeks. I don’t have that much time to read so can help you with two books ever three weeks.”

Miss Bates,” Miss Brown replied, “That’d be so kind and be so helpful.”

The two women huddled, decided what kind of books to borrow. This unlikely partnership continued for the last three years that Tyler attended the share cropper school. In addition, the older students that were interested had their education enhanced by the borrowed books.

In the spring of 1940 Tyler was eleven and finishing the sixth grade when Isaiah decided they should leave the delta. Isaiah’s brother Howard, had moved to Chicago the year before and had gotten work in the factory making auto parts. Howard wrote, “Theys plenty work for them wants to work and the pay is good.”

The William’s family had been living in the delta for generations and Isaiah and Sarah knew nothing else. When they owned the farm, it had been a satisfying life. Share cropping had been a setback with no future while the oppression of the Negro race in Mississippi continued to increase. The information from the Howard, if half true, would be an improvement over their present situation. Isaiah didn’t have a hard time convincing Sarah that they should break their bonds with the delta and leave the unsatisfying known in hopes of finding a better life in the unknown.

Late one night that spring they packed everything they would take with them into a relative’s car that took them to Clarksdale where they caught the train to Chicago, leaving behind the life they knew and the unpaid credit from Ed Sharpton’s store.

While Isaiah looked for work and the family was becoming acquainted with the Chicago. They had moved in with Howards family and in the evening over dinner Howard would fill the Williams family in on things he had learned about the neighborhood. “Theys good, theys bad, but better than the delta for sure. Theys still segregathen, not Jim Crow, but still segregathen,” he said. “Yu can’t live just anyplace, only places where Negroes live. Da schools, where Negro’s live, da not much better than da Negro delta schools. Po teachers, po everythin.”

Isaiah was disappointed to hear most Chicago schools in Negro neighborhoods were no better than in the delta. They were not officially segregated, but in practice they were. Isaiah didn’t know all the reasons why, but Howard said they were and he believed his brother.

Isaiah decided to find out what he could about what to expect from Chicago schools. Isaiah knew Tyler was a smart boy, Miss Brown had told him Tyler was the smartest student she ever had. Isaiah wanted to get Tyler in a school where he could make use of that smarts and learn as much as he could. Isaiah started talking to people who knew things about education.

He talked to the preacher of Howard’s church. The preacher didn’t have a high opinion of schools in the community where his flock lived. “They’s bad schools and they’s worse ones. Da children spend the day there but don’t see them learnen anything.

He visited a neighborhood school. It was summer so the principle had time to talk. The principle, a white man, didn’t talk up his school, didn’t talk up the Chicago school district. He talked about problems. It didn’t seem like the principle was talking to Isaiah. Isaiah happened to be an object the principle could use to unload his frustrations. He talked about the huge influx of Negroes from where Isaiah had come from and other places in the south. They have to live somewhere. When the Negroes moved into a neighborhood the white folks would move out, often to the suburbs. The Negroes don’t have the wealth the whites moving out had. The Negroes moving in had many educational needs while the district’s finances were deteriorating.

Isaiah wasn’t understanding everything the principle was saying but he understood that the Chicago school district had big problems and wouldn’t be a good place for a Negro or for Tyler to go to school.

A friend visiting Howard planted an idea in Isaiah’s mind. The friend lived in Juliet, a community on the southwest edge of Chicago. The friend told Isaiah that there was a Negro community in the middle of the city, compact and segregated just like Negro communities in Chicago and were the only place’s Negroes could rent or buy a house. Also, the elementary school in the Negro community had mostly Negro students and it struggled with staffing and lack of support. However, there were only two middle schools and one high school in the district and they were integrated because there was no other option.

Juliet wasn’t far from where Howard lived so Isaiah took a bus to visit the city and check out job opportunities. Good paying jobs weren’t plentiful, but there was work. The result was that the William’s moved into the Negro community in Juliet, Isaiah found work as a janitor and Tyler entered middle school that coming fall.

Tyler spent the next six years in Juliet schools and graduated from high school with almost perfect grades despite some teacher’s reluctance to give him the grades he deserved. However, the school could not allow Tyler to be named Valedictorian, that would be stretching tolerance beyond reasonable limits.

Graduating from high school had been a goal for Tyler’s parents. The goal had been met; now what? Neither Isaiah, Sarah or Tyler had given that much thought. Despite being at the top of his class the opportunities for a Negro were limited. Few jobs were open to Negroes that provided more than lowest level pay for unskilled work. Negroes were the cleanup people in service businesses, in manufacturing they worked assembly lines and work other people didn’t want to do. Negroes provided un-skilled labor in the construction business.

College for Tyler was really beyond Isaiah and Sarah’s level of comprehension. Tyler had a broader understanding of the education hierarchy but he also understood that neither he nor his family had the means to consider the college option. He considered what his real options were and the most likely would be to get a manufacturing job. It didn’t take long for him to find work in Juliet working on an assembly line. He continued to live at home and contributed to paying family expenses.

Tyler knew that working on an assembly line for the rest of his life was not something he aspired to do. He also had recently become interested in young women and that further complicated thoughts about how to proceed with his life.

Tyler had been worrying these problems for almost two years when a fellow assembly line worker named Clayton informed him that he would be leaving soon to go into the navy. Tyler was surprised by Clayton’s announcement. He had thought the navy didn’t accept Negroes. “Going into the navy,” Tyler questioned. “The navy don’t take Negroes.”

“Well, theys taking me” Clayton replied. “Not a steward polishin officers’ shoes, but a real sailor. Something bout an executive order Truman usin says the navy has ta take any citizen meets the requirements. Skin colors not one of em. Be going up Great Lakes Boot Camp, nex week.”

Tyler didn’t question Clayton’s veracity, but being curious by nature checked out what was going on with discrimination in the navy. After a few hours at the library Tyler had found the source of the change occurring in the Navy. President Truman was interpreting Executive Order 8802 signed by President Roosevelt in 1941 as the basis to begin ending discrimination in the armed forces in 1947. Then this year, 1948, Truman issued executive order 9981 which that made it clear that there would be no more discrimination in the United States armed forces.  Apparently, this executive order was working for Clayton.

That the navy was accepting Negroes as recruits opened up a possibility that Tyler hadn’t considered. He hadn’t seen much of the world other than the Mississippi Delta and Juliet Illinois. His future seemed be low level jobs in whatever field he worked in.

He talked to his parents. Isaiah and Sarah who had long ago decided that they could give Tyler support and love but he was more capable than they were in just about any subject they could think of. “You decide that,” Isaiah said, “You know most about it than most folks do.”

Tyler thoughts had never considered joining the armed services as an option previously. He heard that, with few exceptions, Negroes in WWII were used in all- Negro units and mostly in non-combatant roles.  The thought of a segregated, separate but equal, type of military organization turned him off. The idea of Negroes serving in the military having their own toilet facilities, own mess halls, separate barracks, and maybe colored only fox holes seemed ridicules to him. If as Clayton said, Negroes were being enlisted to serve in an integrated navy, that could be a be a different story.

There was a navy recruitment office in Juliet and Tyler stopped in. A lone man in a uniform sat a desk drinking coffee and reading a newspaper. A half-eaten donut sat on a napkin beside the coffee cup. The man didn’t project the image that one sees in recruiting posters. He slouched over the desk, was a little flabby and his uniform could have used good pressing. The man glanced up and then resumed reading the newspaper. Tyler stood waiting to be recognized but after a few minutes realized that he was being ignored.

“Sir,” Tyler said, “I would like to ask a few questions.”

“About what?” the man asked.

“Well I heard that Negroes can enlist in the regular navy now.”

“What do you mean, regular navy” the man in the recruiting office asked. “Negroes have always been able to enlist as stewards. You want to be a steward.?”

Tyler was becoming irritated. He knew he was getting the run around. This man didn’t want him in his office, and didn’t want Tyler to be in the navy. It caused Tyler to react in kind and he wasn’t going to be intimidated. “No,” Tyler said. “I don’t want to be a steward, I want to be in the regular navy, as a deck hand or whatever regular sailors do.

“What makes you think you can enlist in the regular navy?”  The recruiting officer    asked.

Tyler, who was struggling to remain calm answered “A friend of mine has enlisted in the regular navy and will be going to the Great Lakes Boot Camp next week.”

The man in the uniform had a scowl on his on his face but his mind was working on a different problem.  He was a recruiting officer whose job was to encourage men to join the Navy. The goal for the number of men he was to recruit that month was far from filled. As a recruiting officer he had been informed he could recruit Negroes. He didn’t like to see Negroes serving in the Navy but there wasn’t much he could do about that. What he could do is sign this Negro up and it would add to the number of recruits for the month no matter what color the man was.  He reached into a drawer, pulled out some papers, asked Tyler if he could read or write.

Tyler didn’t respond to the question.

“In any case,” the recruiting officer said, “You can take these papers home, get some help if need be, bring them back with a certified birth certificate.

Tyler asked the recruiting officer if he had something to write with. “I’ll fill out the papers now.” Tyler hadn’t intended to enlist that day, or if ever, but he was so ticked off he decided to do it right there in front of the recruiting officer so he could see Tyler reading and writing.

Tyler did fill out the forms quickly and handed them to the surprised recruiting officer who noted how quickly and neatly the forms had been filled out. “Well, very good,” The recruiting officer said, then reminded Tyler to bring in a birth certificate and handed him a card with the date and place he was to go for the physical.

From that point things moved along quickly, Tyler passed the physical and was told to report to the Chicago City Center recruiting office in two weeks when a group of navy recruits would assemble to be transported to the Great Lakes Navy Training Center boot camp. Two weeks later twelve nervous, anxious young men were herded into a conference room. A navy officer had the men stand up and face him. He said something about swearing in and had the men raise their right hands and to repeat after him the enlisted men’s oath. They all did that and the officer declared the men were now United Navel Recruits and good luck.

When the recruits arrived at the boot camp they were outfitted with uniforms and assigned to a fifty-man company. The company was integrated with Tyler and five other Negroes as part of otherwise all white unit.

The first weeks training proceeded with a heavy emphasis on the importance of discipline which included close order drill as an example. The navy chief petty officers responsible the recruit companies training used whatever means needed to shape up the company to march in step and react to verbal commands without stumbling over each other. The half dozen Negroes were not singled out from the rest of the company. From Tyler’s perspective, it appeared that discipline was applied where needed and color wasn’t a factor.

There were a number of southern white boys in the company that Tyler would label as red necks in their natural environment. Some of them didn’t hide their distain of the Negroes in the company. This became apparent soon after the company had formed and moved into a dormitory.

There were two picknick type tables set in the middle of the company dormitory where recruits could write letters shine their shoes, hang out. A Negro recruit sat down at one of the tables to write a letter and two southern boys were shining their shoes at the other table. One of the southern boys remarked that he didn’t know niggers could write. The Negro recruit reacted instantly, picked up the uncapped ink bottle he was using and flung it at the two southern recruits. The ink bottle hit one of southern recruits and spilled ink over both red necks and on the table. The southern recruits jumped up and tipped over the table the Negro letter writer was sitting at and came after the ink thrower. Other recruits in the company pulled the combatants apart, stopped the confrontation and then attempted to clean up the mess. However, there was no way that all signs of the melee could be erased and the company recruit in charge would have to report what happened.

The next morning the company assembled in front of the barracks and stood at attention while a navy officer lectured them on the Presidential Executive Order 9981 that ended segregation in the United States Armed Services. The officer ended his lecture warning that, “It is the law, if you break the law you will be prosecuted, and if guilty punished and will at a minimum be given a dishonorable discharge. When the Commander in Chief, the President issues and order, you better damn while obey it if you want to serve in the United States Navy.

After that incident there were no racially motivated disturbances during the remainder of boot camp.

During boot camp the recruits were tested physically and mentally. They were required to meet certain strength and flexibility levels and be a third-class swimmer. Anyone falling short of meeting the physical requirements would get individual training in order to meet the requirements before leaving boot camp. Tests to determine math, reading and general knowledge levels were administered.  At the end of boot camp each recruit was interviewed and was told what options were available to that recruit based his back ground, test scores and other related capabilities.

The interviewer, Josh Brisson, watched Tyler as he approached his desk. Josh didn’t spend a lot of time with each recruit and sometimes hadn’t looked at the recruits file until the time of the interview. Josh was surprised to see Tyler was a negro. He hadn’t interviewed any Negroes before this one, although he knew Negroes were now allowed to serve in any one of the navies many different rates and skills. Josh had grown up in rural Wisconsin and never had known or had contact with any Negroes. He came into the Navy off the farm and it was an all-white organization until now. The Negro walking toward him made good physical impression; trim, good posture, pleasant looking. The deep tan skin tone enhanced an impression of a handsome young man.

Tyler stood in front of the desk and Josh motioned for him to sit down. “Excuse me,” Josh said to Tyler. “Give me a minute to look through the file.” What Josh saw in the file was the evidence of probably the sharpest recruit Josh had ever interviewed. This contradicted what Josh had heard about Negroes and he struggled to get his head around what he saw. The interviewers had guidelines they were to follow in placing recruits into slots where they would best fill the Navy’s needs. The navy is a technology-oriented fighting force and needed skilled personal to operate and maintain complex facilities, ships, submarines and aircraft. One of the interviewer’s responsibilities was to select candidates to be trained in the skills needed for the navy to function effectively. The evidence Josh had in front of him told him this recruit should be guided into one of the demanding skills most needed by the navy.

Josh looked up from the file. “Very impressive, you are qualified to go into any rating you would be interested in. What are you thinking about, what would you like to do in the navy?”

Tyler studied the interviewer, “I get to pick what I want to do?”

“In your case, that is true,” Josh replied. “Are you interested in shipboard duty, aircraft, submarines? Those are categories, then what do you want to do in a category.”

World War Two had only recently ended and Tyler had become fascinated with the aircraft and their use during war. The Tuskegee pilots were his heroes. “I’d like to have something to do with aircraft.” Tyler replied.

“There is a full set of navy ratings related to aircraft maintenance and operation,” Josh explained. “The rating I would like you to consider is Aviation Electronics Technician. You will get almost a year of training and if you do well, you’d come out as a 3rd or 2nd class petty officer. Some enlisted sailors take years or never make 2nd class petty officer.

Tyler took the recommendation and found himself at the Memphis Tennessee Naval Air Station, attending the Aviation Electricians Technician school. He was in a class of twenty and the only Negro in the class. Not unexpected since very few Negroes had been accepted into the navy at that point in time.

Tyler encountered bigotry at the Memphis Naval Air Station, the kind that any Negro would consider normal. Otherwise the Memphis Naval Air Station was fully integrated. The State of Tennessee and Memphis were a different matter. To Tyler, Jim Crow seemed more prevalent in Memphis that it had been in the Delta.

Tyler found the training interesting and not difficult and graduated, as had become normal, at the head of the class. He had the petty officer 2nd class rating sewed onto his uniforms and decided to celebrate by going into Memphis to spend some time on Beale Street. He would go alone. There were few Negroes on the base and none that Tyler found shared common interests. None of his white classmate would want to go with him and Tyler didn’t fault them for that. Mixed race sailors together on a Memphis street could draw a crowd.

Tyler wore his dress blue uniform with the new 2nd class rating on the sleeve. He caught a navy bus that circulated through the base and then made a run to Memphis. The bus was nearly empty and Tyler took a seat behind the bus driver. When the bus got to the main gate a marine guard stepped on board and checked the service men’s liberty passes. When the marine had finished checking the passes the driver stood up and said, “All you colored folks now have to move to the back of the bus.” Tyler was the only Negro on the bus. He stood up and moved to the back of the bus.

After Tyler completing his training, he was assigned to unit at the Miramar Navy Air Station near San Diego testing high definition radar being developed to detect snorkeling submarines. Navy technicians worked with civilian engineers to get the kinks out of the new radar before being deployed for fleet use.

Tyler found the work interesting and challenging. The radar guys were more interested in the technology than in skin color so there hadn’t been any obvious bigotry in the group. One of the sharpest technicians in the group was a first generation Mexican American. In addition to that Tyler got to do some flying when testing the equipment. Something he liked and it also made him eligible for flight pay.

Tyler had finished his second year in a three-year enlistment when the Korean War broke out.

The navy had become interested in testing their new radar for an airborne command and control application and Korea offered a chance test it under realistic conditions. As a result, a contingent from the Miramar radar group, including Tyler, was sent to Japan to test the radar command and control capabilities while flying over Korea and adjacent waters. It was during this deployment that Tyler became aware that the GI Bill that assisted World War Two veterans in the cost to attend college was being extended to Korean veterans. As a result, Tyler knew what he would be doing after completing his navy enlistment, an enlistment that was extended for a year because of the Korean war. That was to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana, a school that admitted Negroes, to major in Electrical Engineering,

While at the University of Illinois Tyler changed his major to Physics, a change endorsed by his advisor. This had been driven by Tyler’s interest in a physical world beyond electricity and its various forms. He graduated with honors from the University of Illinois and went on to earn a Master and Doctor degrees in Physics at MIT and then became a research scientist at Stanford.

It was during the 1960’s that Tyler became involved in the civil rights movement under way in the United States. He joined the march on Washington in in August of 1963 with a half a million other civil rights supporters and heard Martin Luther Kings “I had a dream speech.”.

On March 17 1964 President Lynden Johnson addressed a joint session of congress on the subject of civil rights and the President, who had deep southern roots, browbeat and shamed the congress into passing the historic Civil Rights Act in July of 1964.

Tyler was thrilled by the passing of the Civil Rights Act but had no illusions that the act would immediately eliminate prejudice and bigotry in America. Tyler’s concerns were soon confirmed when the Civil Rights Act was met with resistance throughout the south. This resistance was highlighted by the march from Selby to Montgomery Alabama in March of 1965, which Tyler participated in, protesting Alabama’s flaunting of the Civil Rights Act. The march highlighted the nations determination to enforce the Civil Rights Act with federal troops if necessary and by rulings of the courts. However, regardless of the of the enforcement the Civil Rights Act, it would not eliminate prejudice and bigotry from the hearts of many Americans. Yet Tyler was optimistic that the Civil Rights Act had set the nation in a direction and with goals that would improve relations between all of the ethnic and cultural variations of its citizens, However, Tyler also realized that for those improvements and the direction to be maintained depended of future generations supporting those same goals. That was something only time would reveal.

Copyright © 2018 by Alfred Wellnitz

 

All rights reserved. No part of this story may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, names, incidents, organizations, and dialogue in this short story are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author.

Also by Alfred Wellnitz
Novels:

Finding the Way;
From Prussia to a Prairie Homestead

PushBack;
Deficit Triggers Hyperinflation, Terrorism

For the Cause;
The Cold War Turns Hot in Korea
And Why Young Men Went To War

****

About the Author

Alfred Wellnitz grew up in rural South Dakota, served in the United States Navy, and worked in technology as an electrical engineer. After retiring from engineering, he worked as a real estate agent before deciding to become an author at age seventy-three. He has since published three novels and numerous short stories. Alfred’s first novel, Finding the Way, was awarded an Honorable Mention in the 13th Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Book Awards, and PushBack was a finalist in the ForeWord Review’s Book of the Year Awards. Alfred now lives in Bloomington, Minnesota.

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“Risks and Rewards” Give Away

Posted on 11/08/2018. Filed under: Uncategorized |

This week I am giving away a short story called Risk and Rewards. The book can be found in Amazon at the link below, or you can type my name, Alfred Wellnitz, into the the Amazon search box. It will be free through through November 12.

Most stories I write relate to some personal experience, something I observed, heard, been involved in. I believe this is true of many writers. It is true of the short story “Risk and Rewards”. I was in the Philippines while serving in the Navy stationed at the Sangley Point Navel Air Station in the early 1950’s. At the time there was a low level insurrection being waged by a group of Philippines communist that went by the name of Hukbalahaps, commonly referred to as Huks. One night the Huks broke into a Quonset Hut being used as an armory to store 30 caliber ammunition. This was not revealed or announced officially but was pretty well confirmed by base rumors. Part of the evidence was the appearance of some little brown people under marine guard eating at the enlisted men’s mess the morning after the night the incident was rumored to have occurred. In any case these rumors inspired me to write the fictional story “Risks and Rewards” where I imagine how this event was conceived and carried out. The resulting story is summarized as follows:

Three Philippine fishermen who eke out a living fishing in Manila Bay are suddenly presented with an opportunity be paid what would be a fortune in their eyes for one nights effort. The fishermen must consider the risks and moral considerations the opportunity presents. The story follows the decision making process and the results of the choices made by the fishermen.

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