Traveling

 

  (This book is now being written for MAGPUL INDUSTRIES - at their request - comments & criticisms welcomed)

My e-mail is dfitzpatrick@highland.net

{This is a preliminary form of the proposed much larger book which will later be in chapters.}

This book is really brought to you by three generations of Fitzpatricks:

My father, Daniel P. Fitzpatrick Sr., told me a good portion of this travel story and my son
Richard M. Fitzpatrick will be providing us with his pertinent e-mail updates to this narrative.

 

While most of this story tells of traveling in the past, it begins with some current travel warnings from both me and my son Richard.

 

Richard M. Fitzpatrick's e-mail updates will be in Ariel bold print such as the important following two:

You need pick up an i-phone 4GS. Sign up for a service plan with data and tell them you need to have "International Roaming" switched on for the dates of your trip. Put it on the JP Card. The i-Phone 4GS has a great map feature that can guide you anywhere you ask it to also I will send you the apps to down load that make it easy to find your way around the Paris subways. You can also download translators and guides. Make sure you do this as it is the most important thing you can have on the trip.

Cheers,

Richard

RICHARD FITZPATRICK PRESIDENT/FOUNDER MAGPUL INDUSTRIES CORP. magpul.com | magpuldynamics.com | magpul-pts.com

 

And then we have Richard's second e-mail that is even more important:

 

OK, a few other things: Have them put me on the account so I can monitor the activity and see if you have any problems with the international roaming. If this is not set up properly then you could rack up a $100,000 phone bill while you are out there! Just to make sure, I only switch on "data roaming" when I need it. I can show you how to do that (it is in "settings"). Having the phone on for voice calls is not an issue it is the "data roaming" i.e. internet that will get you into trouble if you don't have an AT&T plan set up prior to leaving.

Also take your email information (mail server info, passwords etc) along with you as they will set up the phone so you can get and send email while you are out there. It even has a good high resolution camera so you can take and send pictures or video while you are traveling. Get the 16 Gig version as 8 gig is not really enough to store pictures and video for a two week trip.

Cheers,

Richard

 

(Daniel P. Fitzpatrick Jr. answering)

Richard, I had no problems using either the Paris Metro or the London Underground subway systems, because I used them both before. But I was surprised when I came into the new Westminster Underground station because it was so large and unfamiliar. The Westminster station doorway that I remember coming out of in 1952, near Big Ben, was the spot having the very same door that Pierce Brosnan unlocks as James Bond in the film "Die Another Day"; the Underground station that he refers to "M" as, "an abandoned station for abandoned agents".

Well it rained for my two weeks in Europe, Richard, except for two days in southern France where I got pictures of the old bridge at Avignon. The song should say "Soo le pont d'Avignon . . ." and not "Sur le pont d'Avignon" . . . When the song was originally written it may well have been "Soo . . ." and not "Sur . . ." because the dances were on an island midstream of the river under the bridge. The construction of the bridge in 1177 helped to change the original water current and eliminate the original island necessitating an immense amount of work, for hundreds of years, constantly restoring that bridge. They finally gave up doing all that work on it in 1680; in fact, the original midstream island no longer exists; neither does half of the bridge. People did actually dance on that midstream island under the bridge but not on the bridge itself. Got pictures of the coliseum at Nimes and that section of an old Roman aqueduct 20 miles north of Nimes that brought water to Nimes two thousand years ago. It's the best preserved section of such an aqueduct anywhere in the world. The coliseum at Nimes is the best preserved Roman coliseum as well.

By chance, Richard, I stayed in an IBIS hotel in Mainz and saw this IBIS hotel chain was doing for the middle class what Conrad Hilton did for the upper class. The IBIS sign and hotel in Amsterdam can be seen from the main railway station and is an easy walk from the station and my room there was one of the best hotel rooms I have ever stayed in on my visits all around this world. It had a no slip shower stall; everything worked and was intuitive and sturdy light colored shelves protruded from the walls with no legs so that with one final glance you could see you had left none of your belongings. That was the first perfect - reasonably priced - hotel room I've been in during my many years of world traveling. No IBIS hotels are in noisy areas either and their breakfasts are excellent.

I do like Europe's fast trains; got fed well in Europe on all the fast trains except in France. I knew which platform trains would be on months ahead of time all throughout Europe except for France where this was only announced 20 minutes ahead of time. Even that was changed one time and the whole mob - including me - had only five minutes to race to another distant platform to board our fast train. Also in France - if you travel first class - you will have to chase people out of your reserved seats who are in them using the free internet on first class rail service. I suspect these are all train company employees because they do move as soon as they see your reservations but these people are a pain because they simply will not get up until their computer finishes closing down.

You can read, on the internet, about numerous problems about people being in your reserved seats in Europe's trains. I have personally seen, many times, where people had the correct seat number but they were in the wrong coach. This, indeed, is a bad problem all throughout Europe because while the coaches are plainly marked First or Second class with large foot high numbers, the individual coach numbers are tiny, hard to find, dim lighted numbers, that you can't even see in bright sunlight, far from even the door you enter to get into the coach.

But on the whole, Europe's trains beat anything you can find in America.

I would advise all brand new travelers to make certain that they obtain a copy of their U. S. Customs entry form http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/vacation/sample_declaration_form.xml from the flight attendant on their return airplane (or aboard the ship bringing them to the U. S.). Many travelers who are in the lavatories or sleeping when these are handed out fail to obtain this important form. (Thousands do this every year but this is the system that has been in place for the half century that I've been traveling so I doubt if it will be changed soon.) I have never failed to obtain my copy of the entry form but I know some people who have and this is something you will only fail to do once in your lifetime, believe me. You must present this form, with your signature on it, to the Customs agent and Customs does not have any of these forms for folks who failed to obtain one. Guess what happens to those folks then?

Let's say you forgot to get that form and enter Miami. You will stand in a line where the sign says U.S. citizens Only. But since the sign is only printed in English and since the main language spoken in Miami is Spanish, plenty of non citizens, who can't even read English, will be in front of you. You will know that when you see then all being finger printed whereas U.S. citizens are not required to be finger printed on re-entering the country. After you stand in that line almost an hour and you finally meet the customs agent then he will tell you to go back to your airline and get one of the forms. So then you trudge all the way back, with your carry on bags which seem far heavier now and you obtain the form and then return and stand in line for another hour before you are let into the country.

And something else, about that entry form, that is of extreme importance:

Click on that link above and read that form very carefully before you leave the U. S. so that you don't do anything, outside the U. S. where you are forced to mark yes in any of those boxes. If you want easy, fast entry into the U. S. then never, never, never mark yes in any of those boxes.

If you do buy something overseas then make certain it is not on that list of items and you should have no problems even though you mark no to items bought overseas on that form.

I, for instance, had two pounds of English tea in my bag when I re-entered the U.S. So I simply told the Customs agent, "I marked no in the box before I realized I had bought two pounds of English tea that I have with me." All that agent said then was, "Do you have more than $100,000 in money with you?" I replied, "No." and then after some more questions and my answers, my passport was stamped and I re-entered the United States.

I would also advise older people and those with much baggage to think twice about the trains in France for several reasons: Bags of over 5 inches will not fit overhead on most French fast trains whereas in the rest of Europe the 9 inch thick bags, that you are allowed to carry with you aboard aircraft, can also be put directly overhead on these trains as well. One thing more: France simply does not have enough stations for their fast trains and you will - many times - be forced to walk completely past one long fast train - out from under the train station roof and into the pouring rain - to board that second train that has just pulled in - on the same track, right in back of the train already there - to take you on your journey.

So Richard, Europe has certainly changed quite a bit since I last saw it!

Traveling also sure has changed just in my lifetime.

Changes in travel have altered people's lives, especially in the past hundred years of traveling. This is a true story of the events that have radically and permanently changed the way people lived and traveled in the past.

The individuals who have effected these travel changes are interesting. I'd like to talk to you a bit about all of them too but I'd run out of space so I'll have to stick strictly to the big travel changes and the really important people but a lot of this human aspect is bound to creep into this story.

I've written both fact and fiction over the years and this is the truth as best as I know it to be. Some of it may stretch your credulity. Truth sometimes is stranger than fiction. But, believe it or not, this is what happened as accurately as I can write it. We'll look at the changes in travel and see exactly why we had these changes. I'll also be adding a few things not too many people know.

In his book The Wealth Creators, Gerald Gunderson says, about the late 1700s, "A rule of thumb at that time was that it cost as much to transport goods thirty miles overland as it did to send them clear across the Atlantic ocean." This may be hard for us to believe today but we didn’t have the road system back then that we have today. America had mostly a maritime commerce back then. American towns and cities sprang up first along the eastern coast: much later came the move westward.

A much needed American toll turnpike appeared in1794 between Lancaster and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. It’s success led to more turnpike building throughout America.

State governments stayed well away from tunpike building but New York State got in on the building of the Erie Canal in 1817. When I was a kid you could still see remnants of the Morris Canal near Lake Hopatcong, NJ. In fact still there, near the fountain, at Lake Hopatcong State Park, laying on the ground outside is an old Morris Canal iron turbine used to pull entire boats up an inclined ramp. The reason that this iron turbine has not rusted away in more than a hundred years, laying outside in the open, is that it was made of iron heated and melted by charcoal and not high sulphur coal.

Newark, NJ could never have grown to be a major city without the coal from Pennsylvania being shipped across Northern New Jersey and then down to Newark via the Morris Canal. When I went to grade school I walked on slate sidewalks in Elizabeth, NJ and all of this slate and the slate for black boards and many roofs came down the Morris Canal which ceased operations in 1924. Not all canals were as successful as the Erie and the Morris Canal. Canal building in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana was particularly disastrous causing these states a tremendous loss of money that they never recovered.

The three principle methods of travel a century ago were via trains, ships and horses. This has since changed to trains, ships and automobiles. Once the mass production of cars began, so many automotive vehicles were being produced that it was certain by 1927 that the age of the horse, being predominant in travel, was gone forever. Suddenly flight was also added as another way to travel. But then flight changed radically as well: the thirty-six year era of travel in larger and larger dirigible type zeppelin airships abruptly ended in 1937. We'll cover all this as we look at how traveling changed throughout the years as important events occurred and as science progressed. But now let's begin our travel story with a personal note.

I can still remember my parents completely filling their Durant car up with groceries from the "Big Bear" supermarket in Newark, New Jersey. I sat in the back seat of the car with the grocery bags on the floor and on the seat, next to me, piled up way over my head and there were grocery bags up front with my mother and father as well. I can still recall my mother saying, "Shopping here at this supermarket, we can fill up the entire car with food for five dollars." Yes, but that was way back in the dim and distant past. It was a long time ago in the mid nineteen thirties.

William Crapo Durant was building carriages in 1886 and then was building Buick cars in 1903. He knew he was on to a good thing – as all these new autos started coming out – so he gambled and bought more carmakers and thus Durant became the founder of General Motors in 1908. As one of the nation's top industrialists, he could go into the White House and talk directly to the president. He did so on several occasions. He lost G.M. to the far more conservative du Pont family but then gained it back again, with the help of Louis Chevrolet, only to permanently lose it to them a second time in 1920. After that, the du Ponts replaced Durant with Alfred P. Sloan. It was the Sloan - Kettering team that further enlarged G.M. into the giant of giants that it became in the nineteen fifties.

After Durant was forced out of General Motors, he started all over again by establishing Durant Motors Incorporated in 1921 and building his new Durant cars in Newark, New Jersey. My father bought one of those cars and Pop even showed me the huge factory complex – on the edge of Newark near Elizabeth – where these cars were once produced. It was the largest factory complex I'd ever seen and the tremendous amount of glass on all the south facing roofs impressed me but by the time I saw the factory buildings, Durant was gone and Burry Biscuit Corporation had the buildings.

I wish I had saved the copy of the Newark Star Ledger or perhaps it was the Newark Evening News that came out one summer in the nineteen forties showing a picture of Will Durant, over eighty years old, washing dishes in one of Newark's tall buildings. Durant had gone from the very top to the very bottom of American industry but still worked as hard as he could at whatever he was doing. The article, written by a woman, in the newspaper was entitled, "He's washing dishes in a building he once owned."

My father read the article and said, "He started General Motors." Evidently, even the girl who wrote the article didn’t know that.

It's very hard for me to believe that the founder of General Motors ended up as a dishwasher but he most certainly did.
If someone can locate this article in the microfiche of one of those papers, I'd sure like to get a copy of it.

 

* * * * *

 

Henry Ford – by exerting his rights under the grandfather clause – refused to get a drivers license; Graf (Count) Ferdinand von Zeppelin – doing just the opposite – received German airship license number one. Zeppelin produced the first rigid dirigible in 1900. It slowly became a popular way for the wealthy to travel for many decades. Juan Trippe – who founded Pan American Airlines – became the first person to travel completely around the world using commercial aviation. Pat Williams, who had read quite a bit about Pan American World Airways and Juan Trippe, said to me one day, "Juan Trippe, flew anywhere with anybody." A considerable part of Juan Trippe's travel route – while flying that first trip around the world with commercial air carriers – was via the zeppelin.

Almost all the rigid type dirigible aircraft were produced in Germany. In addition, Germany used them extensively in World War l where they were very effective until the British aircraft were supplied with tracer bullets that could ignite the flammable hydrogen lifting gas inside the dirigible zeppelins. The first pilot to shoot one of these zeppelins down over England had spotted the large zeppelin commanded by Ernst Lehman and went after it but then lost it in the fog. Then he found a smaller zeppelin and shot two clips of tracers into the sides of it with no effect. Then he approached the zeppelin from the rear and shot his last clip of tracer bullets into the ship from the rear and he said, "It lit up at first, in the rear, like a big cigar being lighted." The flames then became so bright that the fire was seen – even through the fog – many miles away and the people on all the other German zeppelins, in that flight group, knew that one of their ships had burned in the air.

Dr. Hugo Eckener started out his career as a newspaperman denouncing the zeppelin. However, the clever Count Zeppelin took Eckener up for rides in his dirigibles and soon Eckener's newspaper articles were praising these new aircraft instead. Then Eckener became a loyal member of Graf Zeppelin's group. Eckener studied hard and became an expert in meteorology. He became one of the group's best pilots. Dr. Eckener flew the LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin completely around the world. Then he flew the much larger LZ 129 Hindenburg Zeppelin back and forth across the Atlantic between Lakehurst, New Jersey and Germany in the summer months of 1936. Because of storms, it was not flown over the Atlantic in winter. Eckener and Adolph Hitler both had strong personalities and both knew how to work the press to get publicity. However, Eckener did not get along too well with Adolph Hitler so Hitler decided to get rid of him. Eckener – Hitler decided – would not be flying the Hindenburg in the summer months of 1937. But who was really put in charge of the zeppelin on its 1937 flight to America, Pruss or Lehman? That, my friends, is still being debated yet today. They were both on board and they had both worked well together. Hitler was good at overlapping authority thereby testing people. Did he do that in this case too? On this first flight to America in 1937 Lakehurst officials radioed to the Hindenburg Zeppelin that a storm would prevent immediate landing in Lakehurst so Pruss & Lehman decided to give their passengers a look at New York City and the New Jersey coast until the storm at Lakehurst abated.

In that day and age there was nothing in the sky that could equal, or even come anywhere close to, the carrying capacity of the Hindenburg Zeppelin; it was the largest air transport mechanism ever produced even to this day. It was only 78 feet shorter than the largest luxury ocean liner ever built, the Titanic, which hit an iceberg and was lost on its maiden voyage. In 1937, no commercial transport, except the massive Hindenburg Zeppelin, could transport you from Germany to America in only two and a half days. It contained over 7 million cubic feet of hydrogen that had a lifting capacity of over 242 tons. The duraluminum structure of the Hindenburg itself was almost 130 tons which meant an additional 112 tons of lifting capacity was available for carrying fuel, people and cargo faster than 80 miles per hour across the Atlantic. This was the thing that simply astonished everyone of that era. Even today, 112 tons of lifting capacity is most certainly an eye-catching figure.

I was not quite five years old yet and after supper, I had walked to the beach with my parents. I was standing in the water of Ideal Beach, New Jersey when that giant Hindenburg Zeppelin flew directly over me. They could not perfectly synchronize those diesel* engines (*the Graf Zeppelin engines used blue gas) so there was this wha-wha-wah overtone sound that sounded to me like a car – that was really close – trying to start. But I saw no cars around and couldn't understand where that sound was coming from. Then my father was there telling me to look up. I did and I'll never forget that sight as long as I live. That gigantic thing came right over the top of me going wha-wha-wha-wha. Since then I've gotten my pilot's license; I’ve had my own airplanes and would guess that it was flying a bit over 1,000 feet above the ground. It was a very impressive sight – believe me.

I never took my eyes off of it as it went east-south-east along that short ten mile section of the New Jersey coast that goes, almost in a straight line and ends at the Highlands. It slowly became a round circular disk that was getting smaller and smaller. Then I noticed the circular object was getting larger and larger. Even at that young age I knew it was coming back. But this time the giant zeppelin did not come directly back over me but went more to the south-west and, the way the sun was shining on it, I could now plainly see the big square passenger windows on the bottom of the zeppelin.

Helium doesn't burn, hydrogen does so the only safe lifting gas is helium, not hydrogen, but only the United States had helium. Germany had no access to this safer lifting gas so they used hydrogen instead and up to that time no one had been killed – in zeppelin peacetime use – because of it. In fact, Lloyds of London gave them very good insurance rates even using hydrogen. The design of the Hindenburg also incorporated the possible use of helium, in which the lifting capability, using helium, would have suffered somewhat from that of hydrogen. Nevertheless, the airship's spacious design gave plenty of lifting capability to spare even using the less buoyant but far safer helium gas which was only available in America.

Later in 1936, after the summer flights to America were over, Dr. Eckener was finally ousted by Hitler and Captain Ernst Lehman was made commander of the Hindenburg with Max Pruss his first officer. We know this to be a fact! As 1936 ended Lehman was in charge of this giant zeppelin. Did this arrangement continue clandestinely into 1937? Many think it did! Max Pruss was a Nazi party member while Ernst Lehman was not but both had exceptionally good relations with Adolph Hitler. Undoubtedly, the well known military record of Lehman commanding the bombings of England in one of Germany's largest zeppelins resulted in Hitler's public announcementbecause Hitler wanted helium – of Pruss as zeppelin commander and Lehman as merely an observer on that fateful final Hindenburg flight. Pruss never commanded a wartime zeppelin although he was at times commander of the Graf Zeppelin; this gave him favorable public news notoriety, which Lehman as a wartime commander lacked. Subsequent reports of the zeppelin employees, who survived the disaster, conclusively show us that Lehman – who Hitler claimed was merely an observer – was very much in control of the Hindenburg during its flight and even during its final landing at Lakehurst. Pruss survived but Lehman died of burns soon later. How much actual flight authority Adolph Hitler gave to Lehman probably never will be known.

Napoleon said, "History is a fable agreed upon." Quite so because My 1940s World Book Encyclopedia – probably getting their facts from the zeppelin employees who survived the disaster – said Lehman was in charge but the folks making the Hindenburg movie had only the German newspaper accounts and American press translations telling them Pruss was in charge. Therefore, in the movie, Pruss is in charge.

Dr. Eckener later claimed that either Lehman or Pruss had made too tight a turn, while over NJ, breaking a cable that cut into the rear gasbag releasing the combustible hydrogen gas. They did, in fact, have trouble with the rear of the zeppelin getting heavier and heavier as the zeppelin was coming in to land at Lakehurst. Therefore, it's indeed possible that Dr. Eckener may have been right in his supposition of the cable snapping and cutting the rear gasbag. Consequently, I may have actually seen the turn that resulted in the demise of the Hindenburg. It must have burned in less than an hour after I last saw it flying.

In the movie "Hindenburg" you will see a copy of "Vom Winde verveht" translated "Gone with the wind". Although the movie came out in 1939, Margaret Mitchell did actually publish her book in May of 1936 so it is indeed possible that a German version was aboard the Hindenburg in May of 1937. The zeppelin's control car – an exact duplicate of the original made for the movie set – is now in the Air and Space museum in Washington, DC. I spent a bit of time there looking at it myself.

Eckener never valved hydrogen but on this particular flight combustible hydrogen gas was valved, to lower the ship, just as the ropes were dropped. What this meant – if the rear gas bag had indeed been severed – was now there was flammable hydrogen inside the ship, mixing with oxygen, from the gas bag leakage and also outside the ship, mixing with oxygen, because of valving. As all those ropes touched the ground then the static charge on the ship would have to instantly change and there would have been a static spark between any of the sections of the ship not correctly bonded thus igniting the hydrogen either inside or outside the ship wherever the spark. We now know the fabric of this zeppelin was far more dangerous than the fabric on the older Graf Zeppelin: to make it look more metallic, it had the same components added to it as rocket fuel. Thus, a fire on the outside of the ship would have been instantly transferred to the interior or vice versa. All this, rather than sabotage, is not only my opinion of what probably happened but it is the opinion of a great many others now also. The "Hindenburg" movie that showed the disaster was caused by sabotage is only a possibility, not a probability. And sabotage remains only a very remote possibility at that. None-the-less it is a distinct possibility.

On the flight to Germany, the captain of the Graf Zeppelin elected not to tell his South American passengers about the fate of the Hindenburg. So when the passengers – on which became the last passenger flight of the Graf Zeppelin – finally arrived in Germany, they were probably the last people on earth to learn of the Hindenburg disaster. And when those passengers stepped off that airship, the age of the dirigible was completely over. Those Graf Zeppelin passengers were the last of the dirigible passengers ever. The zeppelin era was finished!

 

* * * * *

 

Henry Ford's company was five years old, growing fast, and by 1908 Ford was producing 100 cars a day of various models but then Henry Ford made a decision to build only one model car. 

"I will build a motor car for the great multitude," said Henry Ford in October of 1908 as he produced the first Model T.

Ford built his Model Ts despite the fact that he had been denied the right to manufacture motor vehicles by George Seldon who held the patent for all gasoline powered vehicles. Seldon also had far, far more money than Henry Ford. Things did not look too good for Henry Ford when Seldon won his case in 1909 but Ford appealed and Ford won the final victory over Seldon in 1911.

Incidentally, Ford's victory over Seldon had wide implications in many industries: it also meant the Wright Brothers patent on the airplane was no longer valid. But that is quite another story.

Individuals mainly traveled various distances on the roads using horses until the Model T Ford came out. It was Henry Ford who radically changed the way people traveled using horses. His first 1909 Model T produced in the final months of 1908 did have problems. If you turned too sharply or too fast on the first Model Ts, the tires would come right off the front wheels. Nevertheless, Ford fixed that and made thousands of other necessary improvements, throughout the years, as the Model T finally became a fairly reliable car. It rapidly did its part in replacing the horse as a means of transportation.

One of the most popular of its nicknames was "Tin Lizzie". Why? Because its axles, and other steel parts as well, were much, much thinner and far lighter than all the other cars. The Model T only weighed 1,200 pounds! Yes, compared to the other cars it looked nowhere near as heavy and durable. However, these steel parts were actually stronger than all the other cars because early on Henry Ford was way ahead of everyone else in using vanadium steel. In 1909 the Model T was the only American car using vanadium steel, which was six times stronger than regular steel. Cars with much, much heavier axles were still encountering axle breakage but Model T axles never broke.

The Model T's engine had a detachable cylinder head. This was another Ford "First". This aided both in factory production and customer maintenance; an innovation still being used in engines produced today.

Henry Ford's Model T was reliable and rugged: it could take punishment. It was simple to operate. Its engine delivered about 22 brake horsepower at 1600 rpm and at that rpm it did 40 mph. It was a versatile, low cost car that could easily be maintained. All these things made it popular. In 1922, Ford acquired the Lincoln Motor Company. By 1923, more than half the cars in America were Ford cars and most of those were Model Ts.

Not only that but in 1909 Henry Ford held 58% of his company's stock but Henry was being sued by other shareholders for not paying enough in dividends and for plowing too much of the profits back into the company. In spite of adverse court decisions against him, Henry Ford finally won out big by doing essentially what Rothschild did to instantly become one of the richest men in the world: Rothschild became the first to know, via his carrier pigeons, that Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo so he came to the royal stock exchange in London and sold the largest amount of British consols ever sold and then he simply walked away. Everyone said, Rothschild knows, the war is lost! As the price of consols dropped Rothschild secretly bought. Henry Ford did essentially the same thing with Ford Motor stock in 1919 thus buying up all Ford stock at a relatively cheap price. By 1920, the Ford Motor Company was totally re-organized in the state of Delaware with the Ford family owning 100% of the stock. Never before had so few completely owned so much of American Industry. And it was all because of Henry Ford's stubborn determination and his Model T.

All my life – until my most recent car – I, and almost everyone else my age, have exclusively driven cars whose engine had only one spark coil. This was all that was needed, in the cars built during most of my lifetime, no matter how many cylinders they had. But on the most modern cars today – believe it or not – each spark plug has its own high voltage spark coil similar to the old Model T. The Model T engine had four cylinders, four spark plugs and four – 6 volt AC/DC – wooden, high voltage, spark coil buzzer boxes. The 6 volt buzzers on the ends of each ignition coil box, when adjusted correctly had the sound of a buzzing bee, and supplied a continuous high voltage buzzing spark that continued to
dwell and spark over many degrees of crankshaft travel, to each of the four spark plugs. This continuous spark ignition system with a long dwell period of buzzing, sparking ignition may have been the major factor that made the Model T engine extremely valuable and reasonably reliable in that era of a huge variety and assortment of gasoline type fuels. The different fuels of that day and age all needed a spark at different points of crankshaft travel. Ford provided that with his ignition system. It seems absolutely certain to me that today's high compression engines using the modern ignition system with one single spark at one certain point of crankshaft travel needing a certain octane of fuel would not have been practical; in fact, it most probably wouldn't have functioned at all using those low octane fuels available in 1908, the year that the Model T came out. Henry Ford designed his Model T to run and deliver some sort of power using kerosene, naptha, petrol, gasoline, alcohol or almost whatever fuel was poured into it in that era. While Ford did have a good ignition system for the various fuels available in 1908. He, however, did not really begin to perfect his superb assembly line method of production for Model T's until 1913.

Plate glass was expensive and it was needed for the car windshield. Ford figured out how to make plate glass a lot cheaper. So it was with other things on the car as well. Year after year Ford kept lowering the price on his Model T. The 1909 Model T began to be sold at the end of 1908 at $950 and the last year of Model T production was 1927 where it sold for $290. There were fifteen and a half million Model T's produced in the 19 years that the car was built. No one beat this record for the same model car being built until the 1970s when Volkswagen finally beat Ford's production record of 15.5 million cars for a single model car being produced.

It took the Ford workers over ten hours to build a Model T in 1908 but by 1914 the time had been reduced to less than an hour and a half and by 1927 a new Model T was coming off the Highland Park assembly line every 24 seconds. This was the epitome of car production. Moreover, with this type of car production the era of the horse, being a dominant factor in all of our lives, was 'gone with the wind' forever. In 1908 trains, ships and horses dominated the transport system but, twenty years later, by 1928 trains, ships and cars were the dominant players in America's transportation system. It was those 20 years in which we said our final 'good-by' to the large multitudes of horses in all the cities.

When Henry Ford was born, most of the people in America lived in the country. Then, only two out of every eight people lived in the cities. By the time Henry Ford died things had entirely changed: five people out of every eight then lived in the cities. In Ford's lifetime the vast multitude moved from the country into the cities. That important change was undoubtedly helped because of Henry Ford and his Model T.

Henry Ford's immense River Rouge plant was completed in 1927. Here Ford would produce his Model A and subsequent cars with vertical integration where Ford's steel plants made all his steel and his railroads transported everything and his glass plants made all the glass for the Model A. His lumber mills turned out all the wooden floorboards. Not only this but Ford's supply system at River Rouge was actually the beginning of the "just in time inventory system". Not a penny was borrowed to construct this huge integrated River Rouge facility. It was all built on the profits from Ford's Model T.

The Model T's flywheel was another Henry Ford gem. It also was a 6-volt magneto because the flywheel had magnets all around its rim. The copper magneto coils were heavy ribbons of copper, not wire, so this type of magneto never burned out. The first Model Ts didn't have electric headlights. But soon Ford was turning out all his cars with electric headlights. However, on those early electric headlight cars, the faster your engine ran, the brighter your headlights would get. (The Model T magneto would burn your six volt headlight bulbs out though if you ran the engine too fast.)

The spokes in the model T wheels were wood. Whenever they dried out sufficiently the wheels would rattle. My father told me when the wheels rattled you simply found a big mud puddle and drove through it and the water would wet the wooden spokes and they would swell up and the rattle would be gone.

My father also said the Model T was easy to get out of the mud. You just hit the left pedal (for going forward) with one foot then the middle pedal (for reverse) with the other foot and you kept up this - left pedal, middle pedal - back and forth motion until the car rocked itself out of the mud. No gears to shift on the Model T. It was basically a sun gear – star gears – planetary ring gear arrangement similar to the automatic transmissions used today, except on the Model T, instead of hydraulic pistons automatically doing the band tightening, your feet did the brake band tightening of the star gears or the sun gear or the planetary ring gear. On the Model T, you used your feet (3 foot pedals) to stop certain portions of the transmission by applying pressure to the transmission brake bands. On today's automatic transmissions, instead of your feet applying pressure, unseen hydraulic cylinders automatically apply similar pressure to stop portions of the automatic transmissions of our modern cars. Nevertheless, the basic principle of the model T transmission and modern automatic transmissions is exactly the same. The Model T's simple planetary transmission using brake bands (actuated by 3 pedals) only had two speeds forward. The emergency brake (parking brake) was actuated by pulling the brake handle – to the left of the driver – all the way back. This simply applied pressure to the rear wheel brake shoes. You also got rear wheel braking by using your brake foot pedal – the right pedal. This right pedal actuated the brake bands that stopped the transmission section attached to the rear wheels, which also stopped the car.

Ford advertised his transmission as a 3 speed transmission and so it was: It had two speeds going forward and it was slower and had more power going in reverse than either of the two forward speeds. My father told me Ford never advertised but I found out later that was only true for several years of Model T production. I also heard that Henry Ford said, "They can have any color they want as long as its black." That may have been true. The Model T was produced in a variety of colors. However, from 1913 to 1925 – when Ford could sell cars as fast as they could be produced – the Model T was produced only in black.

To start a Model T you had to first insert and turn on the key and then retard the spark by moving up the lever on the left of the steering wheel. (Many broken arms came to those people who forgot to retard the spark.) You then had to get out and choke the engine by pulling a wire, under the radiator, and crank the engine to get it started. After the engine started you got in, advanced the spark, (pulled down the lever) and released the brake lever to the half way position – mid position – and pressed the middle pedal to go into reverse or pushed the left foot pedal to go into low forward speed. To shift into fast forward speed you moved the hand brake lever all the way forward – past the mid position – and released foot pressure on the left pedal. Your feet pushed nothing at fast speed. Your throttle was a lever on the right of the steering wheel.

Some drivers wore out transmission brake bands faster than others. They were hard to change until Ford came out with easy to change brake bands. Ford did keep trying to improve his car year after year. He never thought the ignition switch key needed any improvement though. You could get a new ignition switch key for your Model T at any Woolworth's 5 and 10 cents store. All keys were exactly the same and one key fit and actuated millions of Model T's.

Henry Ford's Model T, unfortunately, had no self starter and had to be cranked by hand until 1920 when self starters and 6 volt lead-acid batteries were available in some models. But even the earlier more affluent Model T drivers would have four dry cell batteries – hooked up in series next to the front passenger's feet – which only ran the AC/DC spark coil buzzer boxes. This insured a hot spark at a lower cranking force/speed and made cranking a lot easier. The dry cell switch – on the right of the car, in front of the passenger – was switched off after the engine started because then the coil boxes ran via the 6-volt AC magneto. My father claimed that if you only stopped for five minutes or less, to get a newspaper or something, then came back fast enough and switched on the dry cells, you had a better than fifty-fifty chance the Model T engine would start by itself. It would do so because all of the cylinders would have some fuel in them because you had cut the ignition switch to stop. Because of the long continuous, buzzing spark
dwell period, one of the cylinders would invariably start sparking when first the ignition switch then the dry cells were switched on, thus popping that cylinder and starting the engine. The bad side of this continuous spark ignition system was the fact that it burned out spark plugs really fast. Model T spark plugs burned out so rapidly that they had to be re-gapped every thousand miles and had to be totally replaced every few thousand miles.

The four wooden high voltage spark plug coil boxes were not in the engine compartment. They were in a box – behind the dash – in the passenger compartment between the driver and the passenger. The buzzers on the ends of the four wooden ignition boxes could be plainly seen by the driver or front seat passenger. By opening the lid to this metal box you saw all four buzzers right there on the dash. Using a battery, or running the engine for magneto voltage, one could sit on the front seat and adjust the nuts on the four ignition coil buzzer boxes to keep them all buzzing properly for a continuous spark so all 4 cylinders continued to fire correctly and the engine continued to run smoothly. Anyone who drove a Model T had to know how to do this because this was something that had to be regularly and even occasionally done to keep the engine in tune with all 4 cylinders firing.

Spark coil boxes were exceptionally easy to change. No wires to disconnect. You simply raised the cover on the dash and yanked out the bad coil box – the one that wasn’t buzzing like a bee – and pushed in a new one. Henry Ford thus instituted the plug in modular approach many years before the computer folks did.

Many people applied a coat of varnish to their spark coil boxes claiming that this enabled the car to run better in wet weather. They may have been right but Ford kept building his spark coil boxes without any coating whatsoever. The earlier Model T windshields were straight up and down and in the winter time – on those cars that could be more tightly sealed from the wind – people would put lighted candles an inch from the windshield and this had a similar effect as the windshield defrosters we use today.

You had to go up a steep hill backwards on a Model T because it had no fuel pump and the fuel tank was in the back. Going up the hill backwards assured that the gas tank stayed higher than the engine so gravity could keep the fuel flowing properly to the carburetor. Also for the same engine rpm you got the slowest speed and most power going backwards.

The Model T had no water pump. The radiator was higher than the engine and the bottom of the radiator was connected by a water hose to the water outlet on the bottom of the engine. The top of the radiator was connected by a hose to the water outlet on the top of the engine. Hot water simply rose to the top of the engine then out the hose to the top of the radiator. In the radiator the water cooled and the cooler water in the bottom of the radiator sank even further through the hose to the bottom of the engine. This was the water cooling cycle for the Model T. No water pump needed. My diesel 17 hp Kubota tractor uses the same cooling method with no water pump. I have seen water pumps on later Model Ts. Whether these were added later or came from the factory that way, as an added extra, I do not know. (The very first Model Ts did have a water pump but Henry Ford eliminated that design fast and made the no water pump design his standard.)

Still, with all its faults, the Model T Ford was the instrument of travel that finally replaced the horse. It's difficult to comprehend how many horses there once were. Once upon a time, horses were everywhere one looked! Life depended on them! I've owned several farms in the ridge valley system of Tennessee and learned that in the very early 1900s the best land in the bottom of all the valleys was solely for the horses and the people grew food for themselves further up on the less enriched hillside land; so valuable was the horse to human existence. In many cities, roads were closed to traffic on the first Monday of every month and a good portion of the city was entirely devoted to buying and selling horses during that day each month. This was all a bit before my time but J. B. Williams – who was about twenty years older than me – told me, "On every first Monday in Morristown, TN there were mouths of horses being opened wherever you looked."

Cars started to displace these horses a bit before the turn of the century and by the turn of the century almost a third of the cars on the road were electric cars.

These early cars could use these early roads as long as the weather was perfect but when it wasn’t the horse still had the advantage: the horse could easily move on these muddy roads whereas the car could not. From 1910 to 1920 farmers along these well-traveled roads were, making a good bit of money, charging an average of $3 to pull a car out of the mud using several horses. But by the late twenties, as our roads started getting paved, this extra money paid to these farmers dropped off considerably.

The American ultra rich bought the Locomobile that began being built in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1917 but the most popular of these expensive cars was the Pierce-Arrow. I saw plenty of those still around when I was young. Other expensive cars, of that era, were the Chadwick, Crane-Simplex, Peerless, Stevens-Duryea and White. I rode in a Grant Six of this early era but it most certainly was not a luxury car.

Driving these early cars, you’d end up, on the average, with a flat tire before two hours on the road, so you had to know how to jack up the car, pull the wheel off then pull the tire off the wheel and patch the tube. Then you put the tube back in and put the tire back on the wheel, if you were lucky and didn’t pinch the tube, you could pump up the pressure in the tire with your hand pump. Finally you put the wheel back on, lowered the jack and you were ready to roll again.

The expensive cars of the next decade were the Cadillac, Dort, Durant, Franklin, Jordan, La Salle, Lincoln, Mercer, Metz, Moline Knight, Nash, Packard, Stutz, Wills Saint Claire and Winton with the dream car being a Deusenberg or a Marmon: the Kissel and Auburn were very much like the Marmon.

I saw Model Ts and horses still on the roads in the late nineteen thirties. I got a steady, buzzing spark about three quarters of an inch long from a Model T spark coil that I bought from Pep Boys in 1946 but never saw Model Ts running, on the road, anymore by then. A few horses were still on the roads though, then, mostly pulling farm wagons of produce to the cities.

 

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Where top continuous cruising speed on the 20 horsepower Model T was about 40 mph, the 30 horsepower Ford Model A would do about 60 mph on a level road. That was fast enough for me on the roads I grew up on. Those horsepower ratings I just gave you are only approximate ratings. In the Ford Motor Company's Model A manual, that came with every new car, the engine is listed as a 20 SAE horsepower engine but it will actually deliver 40 brake horsepower at 2200 rpm. Today we use the displacement in liters to more accurately compare the power of different engines but you cannot do that to compare those early engines with today's engines because they had neither the compression ratio nor the high rpm of today's engines.

Since I had never been in an air-conditioned car, my Model A seemed cool enough for me. Father Kiernan, pastor of Saint Mary's church in Elizabeth, NJ did have a large air-conditioned car in 1946. But that was the only one I ever saw so they must have been extremely rare. The common person just didn't have air-conditioning in those days. Many didn't even have refrigerators in 1946. My Grandmother didn't. She had an icebox and the iceman was still busy delivering ice to many like her for several years after the war ended. We still had an icebox up at Lake Hopatcong when I left in 1950. They would cut ice from the lake in winter and they stored it in an icehouse that had walls over a foot thick filled with sawdust insulation. This ice they sold to everyone in the summer. The back corner bumper on the Model A Ford was perfect for hauling a block of ice. My father brought ice to us for years this way on the right rear bumper and although he had to go up one steep hill, he never lost one block of ice.

In summer one stayed cool in the Model T because it was not a totally closed in car. Ford did try to make the Model T a totally closed in car but it was too top heavy. Ford knew that his Model A – which was totally closed in – would be hot in the summer so he hinged the windshield at the top and in summer you merely opened and pushed the bottom of the windshield forward a few inches and got plenty of cooling breeze in that way as you drove. Later cars – from every car maker – all had a fixed windshield but had forward triangular deflector windows, on each side, that could be opened thereby scooping air inside, as the car moved, and causing a good breeze through the car that way as long as the car kept going at least 25 mph.

People who are reading this today understand exactly what I mean when I talk about a speed of 25 mph. My father had to explain to me that in his day few knew what these speeds even meant. Most people used horses and horses didn't have speedometers. At Indianapolis on June 15, 1903 when Barney Oldfield broke the old speed record by driving 60 mph in Ford's 999 race car, the newspapers knew few would even know what 60 mph meant so the headlines said "Barney Oldfield goes a mile a minute." A mile in a minute was fast. Everyone could see that! The train folks used mile per hour speeds but not most of the common folks. It took millions of cars with millions watching millions of speedometers to finally get the mph concept across to the average person.

My father did extensive traveling in those days of the Model T and the Model A and claimed that as this new age of the automobile dawned so did other nefarious schemes of robbing the auto traveler: speed traps were quite extensive throughout the U. S. in those early days. In certain counties and cities judges colluded with the police in arresting non local people who were unfortunate enough to drive through these areas. No matter what speed the auto was doing, the driver would be stopped by the police and arrested for speeding and immediately taken before a judge who would find the driver guilty of speeding and order the driver to pay a fine of $10 or $20. They knew travelers would have money enough to pay this. My father said there were many publications in those days listing all these speed traps and if you didn’t subscibe to one of these then you would constantly be caught in speed traps as you traveled throughout America way back then.

The first car I ever owned was a Model A Ford. The Model A was one of the first cars to have a safety glass windshield. My father gave it to me after the war was over. Gasoline was rationed during the war and the beauty of having a Model A, during the war, was that its low 4:1 compression ratio allowed it to run on kerosene. You had to start it on gasoline but it would actually keep running on kerosene thereafter. The best way, however, was to simply feed it a mixture of one cup of gasoline to a gallon of kerosene. It would both start and run on this mixture. This mixture would soot up the spark plugs more than normal but they could be rapidly taken out and cleaned more often than usual and this was done many, many times to keep the car going. Timing also needed to be changed a bit, by moving the spark advance lever – on the left of the steering wheel – not quite as far down, for the best use of this new mixture but kerosene worked wonderfully in the Model A for our family all the years of the war.

We had a summer home at Lake Hopatcong, NJ and thereby obtained the same kerosene ration as people who stayed there all year round. This godsend was not lost upon my father who took full advantage of this large kerosene ration and diverted it to running his Model A Ford all during the war.

During the war, our government provided decals that you had to paste on your windshield. These showed the police how far your job was from your home. Your car was never supposed to be further from your home than your place of work. The police were constantly catching people who were caught exceeding this distance and fining them and even putting some of them in jail.

Every time we drove to Lake Hopatcong, we were exceeding this distance so both my mother and father kept their eyes on the road far ahead. As soon as my father detected what he thought was a patrol stopping people, he would make an abrupt U-turn and leave the highway taking the back roads to avoid the police on the main road who were out checking decals. I can remember this happening a good many times during the war but we never were caught.

Gasoline rationing was pretty strict during the war. It continued for a bit even after the war was over. I distinctly remember hearing on the De Soto car radio that gasoline rationing was over but at the gas station my father – like all the others – simply gave his ration stamps to the attendant. One person, however, objected telling the attendant – probably the station owner – that gasoline rationing was over and he did not have to give him any ration coupons. The attendant/owner replied, "Look at this would you! These numbers for the amount of gas you got are the exact same numbers that I have to dial to call the FBI when I don't get your rationing coupons." The man then forked over the necessary gas coupons to the gas station attendant without any more words of protest. I can remember that episode well!

Before the war even started, my father bought a De Soto with a radio in it. He bought the Model A as soon as the war started because he knew it would run on kerosene. It didn't have a radio. I remember the distance from our house in Linden to Lake Hopatcong was 38 miles. In summer we would stay at the lake and my father would take the train each day to the lake and drive the Model A from the train station to our spot on the lake then the next morning he drove it back to the train station and then he went home to Linden by train. In Linden, he would drive the De Soto to work. His train ticket was good for 6 days but he would only use the train 5 days each week. Since my name was the same as his (junior), I would sometimes use his ticket on Saturdays to go back home to Linden myself. I liked using the train. My aunt Hannah made hats for Hattie Carnegie in New York and took the train from Linden, New Jersey to New York City every working day of her life. We seemed to depend a lot more on the trains back then than we do now. Of course, way back then, the roads were a lot worse, a lot narrower and a lot fewer than they are now. I remember one time, coming back from the lake in the Model A. It took quite a while to get through this one city and my father said, "Look at this: they are removing their old cedar water pipes." And yes the city was removing ancient cedar water pipes that originally piped water to the town's inhabitants. These were sections of cedar logs that had been hollowed out and the ends beveled so they would fit together and convey the city's water. I actually witnessed the America of George Washington slowly changing as I rode on those old narrow roads way back in the late thirties and early forties. My father claimed that in his day most of the roads were only one lane and one car would have to pull off the road entirely to let the other car pass. I did see a few farming and country roads that narrow when I was driving.

New York was the only place that I ever saw roads that had four lanes – two lanes going in one direction. Robert Moses was building wide roads like these in New York but we had nothing like this in New Jersey. Eisenhower had seen the German autobahn and knew America's roads were seriously lacking. It wasn't until after the war when Eisenhower got in as president and pushed the interstate highway system that this really revolutionized America's road system.

In 1950, I drove the Model A, that my father gave me, to Budd Lake airport and met Howard Bartholomew who ran Budd Lake airfield. I showed Howard the $200 that I had in my hand and said I was working at a soda fountain at Hopatcong and would have another $150 at the end of the summer season. I asked him if this was enough for me to get my pilots license. Bart – as he was known to everyone around there at that time – scooped the $200 quickly out of my hand and plunked me into the back seat of his Piper Cub and I was getting my first flying lesson in less than ten minutes after Bart got that money. At the end of that summer Bart told me, "I'm giving you this license because you know more than I did when I got my license. If you take up passengers, though, fly into Hackettstown because that runway is a lot longer than the ones here." A few weeks later, in Linden, my pilot's license arrived from Washington. A bit over three years later I had a PA-12 super cruiser and landed with my father at Bart's. We chatted and then we flew away. It was a good many years after that that I discovered the landowner wouldn't renew Bart's airfield lease. Thus ended the existence of Budd Lake airfield. Another field I used to fly out of in New Jersey was Hadley airport and now that is gone as well.

The Model A didn't have hydraulic brakes. It had mechanical brakes, which absolutely never failed, operated by strong steel rods. I had to go through the New Jersey car inspection station several times each year before the car would pass their brake test. Their test was designed to favor hydraulic brakes. But each time I went through the brake test, I could see which wheel brake shoe needed a bit more tightening and I got closer and closer to what would pass each time I went through. Other than passing those yearly inspections, the Model A brakes never gave any trouble whatsoever to me or anyone else I knew who drove that type car. In fact the Model A was the only car I ever drove that was totally free of brake problems while driving. It was just a bit slow getting through those yearly brake inspections.

The Model A did not have a water temperature indicator on the panel. Many cars of that period didn't either. To make up for this many people had water caps that had temperature indicators built into them. I lacked one of these. Thus when my water heater hose came off, as I drove from Budd Lake to Lake Hopatcong, I lost all the water in my model A and ruined the engine.

So I drove a better car than the Model A – a 1937 Chevrolet – to Miami Florida to see the 1950 - 1951 Miami Air Show. The roads for that entire distance were all just wide enough for two cars to pass. They were definitely a lot narrower than today's roads; in fact, there was nothing back then like we have today. The only time I saw other cars were in the cities. On the road between cities I hardly ever saw another car. Route 1 to Florida went through all the cities. I did avoid many of the cities by traveling Route 1A which went along the ocean and was, at that time, a faster route to travel. It was mainly for the folks going to the ocean resorts and these resorts were all built around Route 1A without blocking it noticeably. I passed by plenty of small ocean resorts back then but they were all tiny and far from any big cities. So there was no traffic to speak of – like we see there now – on that ocean road during my 1950 trip to Miami. People reading this today won't necessarily believe all this but it's the truth. Most folks used the trains to travel long distances in 1950, not the roads. Look at some 1950 National Geographic Magazines and see all the train ads. It was after Eisenhower became president that all this gradually started to change and our road system became more like what we know and see today.

Not all the roads away from the cities were empty. On weekends there were always far more cars on these distant roads than during the week. In New Jersey, in the summer time, thousands of cars would be leaving the big cities headed to the near by beaches on Fridays and Saturdays and returning back home again on Sundays. My father had a photo he took of cars lined up as far as one could see either going or coming to one of the popular beach resorts in the summer. There was never that much traffic going to Lake Hopatcong though. It was a popular summer spot but a bit too far and perhaps a bit too expensive for the average city factory worker.

America did have a giant industrial base built when World War ll ended late in 1945 but there were some bad strikes and other restructuring problems: the massive change from war materials to making consumer goods prevented America from fully utilizing all its industrial strength immediately after the war ended.

There were no Mac Donalds nor Wendys back then. What we did have were lunch wagons. These were converted railway cars where you could get a reasonably fast meal seated on a stool in front of a long counter. You had to know which were the good ones and which were the bad ones. They were all privately owned and run. Howard Johnson was the first big chain outfit – that I saw – serving food and catering specifically to drivers on the road and that must have been about 1948. Their prices were a bit higher than the lunch wagons, consequently I can remember only eating there once, as a kid, but I had many lunch wagon meals on the way to Lake Hopatcong.

Ernie Helmrich was the postmaster in the Boro of Hopatcong, in New Jersey during the late nineteen forties and into a few years of the nineteen fifties. I worked for him but I didn't work in the Post Office. I worked at his soda fountain, which was in the same building. This was a tourist resort and I worked there in the summer time. Many of these people used to go to Miami in the wintertime and after listening to them talk about Miami, I decided Miami was the place for me. Also I wanted to see the Miami Air Show so off I went to Miami in my 1937 Chevrolet that I got from an old lady for $300. The car only had 20, 000 miles on it and looked like it just came out of the factory. She only drove it at Lake Hopatcong in the summer time and had it put up on blocks inside every winter. I do believe that it was the best car I ever owned. During my stay in Miami the left front wheel started leaking hydraulic fluid so I had to replace the two rubber seals. I did this and paid $2 to have a garage mechanic bleed the brakes because I didn't know how to do that way back then. However, this was the only problem I ever had with that car. Later, going into the Army, I had to sell my car. I put an ad in the Miami Herald saying "Best '37 Chevy in Florida" and got my entire $300 back again.

We used to make really good cars here in America, like that 1937 Chevrolet I once owned. But recently I bought a brand new Chevrolet and today – Saturday, August the 13th, 2011 – I received a satisfaction form from G.M. that I was supposed to fill out and return to them about my car. I did not fill it out but I did take two big marking pens – red & black – and I wrote this in big letters right across their form:

You have to be kidding !

I'll never buy another G.M. car.

You refused to honor the warranty.

I didn't lie either. It was absolutely true. (I believe I misspelled warranty on the form that's going back to them.)

I live in the country where the mailbox is in front of my house. The mailman will see the red flag up on my mailbox Monday and my reply will head back to General Motors. I wouldn't even have wasted a stamp on it to send it back to them but since they are paying the postage then I figured, yes, they will see what I think about their company.

 

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Electric cars were once serious competition to gas powered vehicles. In 1900, almost a third of the vehicles produced were electric. They were driven mostly by women who were either not able or who did not want to crank an automobile to get it started. The only way to start a gasoline engine way back then was to crank it by hand.

Even in the 1970s, I used an electric golf cart type vehicle at Miami International airport for most of my work in getting around to the various spots I needed to go to. It worked fine for years on that flat, level, paved airport area. Never had even the slightest bit of problem with it. You simply had to make certain it was always plugged in when you weren't using it.

The hybrid electric-gasoline vehicles are gaining in popularity and with a battery breakthrough – which I'm certain we will eventually get – the all electric car may even return to a higher popularity than it had at the turn of the last century. This will happen when these all electric cars get 400 miles or more between charges. A battery breakthrough will also necessitate more solar and wind driven devices that will be necessary if we are to achieve much more electric power, than is available now. We will need far more electricity – than we have today – if we want to run all these new all electric vehicles that will be with us after we get a new scientific battery breakthrough discovery that give us lighter, smaller, more powerful, rechargeable batteries. It is coming – but when?

We absolutely need lighter, smaller, more powerful, rechargeable batteries BEFORE we will get electric vehicles that can even begin to compete with the present gasoline and diesel vehicles on our roads today. Moreover, for this we need a substantial scientific battery breakthrough.

 

 

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I've had far better luck with the airplanes that I've bought than with the cars that I have owned. I know, for a fact, that our government puts far, far more scrutiny into each new airplane than it does with each new car.

I saw an Aeronca 7AC aircraft at Lantana Airport, near West Palm Beach, that a person wanted to sell. He was white but he had grocery stores where he sold to the colored folks. I went to one of his stores and all the food was behind hardware cloth wire and the blacks couldn't touch anything but just pointed to what they wanted and after they paid, they got it through a small opening. I think I gave him $450 for the Aeronca and this allowed him to open another store. I guess we were both happy with that deal.

I had learned to fly in a J-3 Piper Cub but if there was only one person in a Cub the pilot had to sit in the back. This was for correct weight and balance. In this Aeronca, however, the solitary person flying, sat up front. So when I took off in my new Aeronca, for the first time, this was all new to me being up front. I then thought things over and wondered if I could land it sitting up front because I couldn't properly see the angle the entire aircraft was making with the ground while way up front – or so I thought at the time.

Anyway, I practiced landing it way up high, about 6, 000 feet high, for about an hour and a half until I thought I had it down pretty well. Then I brought it back down and landed it with no problems whatsoever. In a few weeks they were my wings sticking out there.

I used to fly that plane into the Everglades and sometimes there were many thousands of birds below me. That was really an incredible sight.

I flew that Aeronca to Sunny South airport – closer to Miami – and kept it there for awhile.

Sunny South airfield only had one grass runway going east-west. They had a wind "T" on the eastern end of the airstrip that showed airplanes which way to land and take off. I made hundreds of takeoffs and landings at that airfield. But one time I gassed up on that east end of the field but had to taxi to the other west end because the wind "T" was positioned for a takeoff toward the east from the west end of the field. I remember distinctly that there was a wind from the north giving a 90-degree crosswind. While I was taxing to the far end of the field, they evidently decided to change the direction of the wind "T". But I didn't know this so I took off and was about 50 feet high when I saw this other airplane headed right at me at about the same height I was. I made a right turn, almost touching my wing tip to the ground, and escaped hitting that other airplane. I should have reported those people but didn't. Later I found out there had been a fatal accident at Sunny South airfield for that very same reason.

I then took my Aeronca to Tamiami airport on SW 8th Street, which the Cuban population there have now renamed Calle Ocho.

. . .

Here's a copy of an e-mail I wrote to my good friend Dr. Milo Wolff telling about this period in my life:

Milo,

I had my pilots license in my pocket before I finished high school.

Right out of high school I went to Miami to see the air show in 1950 and never returned.

I bought an Aeronca 7-AC champion and flew it all over south Florida 'till my money ran out.

I was coming back from Tampa over the Calusahashie river bridge at night when my compass leaked all the fluid out over my leg. I remembered my path from Miami was straight over that bridge so I flew directly over the bridge going back and noticed where the shadows of all the cockpit reinforcing bars were and I simply kept all those moon shadows in the same spot and flew back that way toward Miami.

When the sun came up, I flew toward the sun.

Came right into Tamiami airport that way with about 15 minutes of gas in the tank when I landed.

It had a wooden propeller and someone showed me where the wood looked darker so I asked the mechanic at Avex for some varnish and instead got old shellac that I painted all over the prop.

Came back a few days later and took off and at about 500 feet of altitude all these spots were coming all over the windshield. I had to go full throttle just to stay at the same altitude and whenever I turned I would lose altitude and the cylinder head temperature indicator was in the red.

I had to turn to come back and there were big pine trees surrounding the airport back then. I was so low that I lost sight of the asphalt runway but then saw some black through the trees and headed the plane for that. Many of these treetops, by this time, were above me and I had to avoid these.

I just made it. The propeller looked like it was painted with krinkle paint. I guess I was one lucky kid that my money ran out separating me from that airplane.

I joined the army and went to Germany for three years. There I worked on and flew a few times – when the officers were gone – Stinson L-5s and Cessna L-19s

I had three years of German in high school and made enough on the black market in Germany to buy a Piper PA-12 super cruiser when I got out.

This I flew from New Jersey back to Florida where I went through Embry Riddle to get my aircraft mechanic's license.

I had only 20/200 vision in my right eye. A government inspector flew with me and got me a commercial waiver but I knew no airline would ever hire me with one eye that bad so I went the route of airline maintenance.

The first airline I worked with for about three years was Riddle Airlines. I saw John Paul Riddle guide Arthur Vining Davis – in his 90s then – around the wet spots one day. Davis dropped two million into Riddle Airlines and lost most of it.

I worked for the non-skeds (small airlines with no scheduled routes) in, what at that time was called "corrosion corner": the corner of Miami airport where 36th Street made a bend into N.W. 70th Avenue or Perimeter road as it was called back then because it did define the airport’s westmost extension. This was the north-west corner of the airport way back then. The runway has since been lengthened. After working for Ransa and Tan Airlines in corrosion corner, I got a job as mechanic with National Air Lines while I also started a surplus store in Hialeah, Florida. I came into work one day and the DC-6 that we had worked on for over a month, and had almost finished overhauling, was burned to a crisp.

One of the cleaners had spilled some solvent on an electrical multiple outlet box. They should have just left it alone. But then they pulled the plugs out of the box and the sparks set the wet carpet on fire. Even then if they had told someone, the a/c might have been saved but they tried to stomp the fire out themselves. By the time people were alerted the magnesium flooring had caught fire and that was all she wrote. You can't easily put a magnesium fire out. In a way, Frank T. Baker who controlled National Air Lines lucked out because that airplane just happened to be in the only bay that had a fire door. They were able to shut that fire door and save their building and all the other aircraft. That building is still there: it’s now the Frank T. Baker School of Aviation.

While at National I started a better store on the circle in Miami Springs. National was laying off sheet metal workers so I talked to the union rep and got myself laid off as a sheet metal worker. The store and National together had been a bit too much for me. Eventually they called the metal men and me back but I never went back.

I sold the store and then went to the Congo with Aerovias Panama where I was Inspector of their flotilla of C-46s and DC-4s. I liked the Congo.

I had a friend who was in Germany and when we lost the UN contract in the Congo, I visited my friend who was trying to convince this young German girl to come back to the states with him. She was going to come and then she wasn't and then she was but finally her mother and her grandmother were all crying one day and after listening to them she said a final NO to my friend. So my friend and I roamed around going to Switzerland and Italy and after about a year we came back to the states on the German Liner "Hanseatic".

Before coming back, I think I spent about two months myself in Ireland and England back then too leaving my junk with my friend in Germany.

You had to stay out of the states 18 months then to avoid paying US taxes. And this I most certainly did.

After that I came back to Miami and got on with Pan Am.

I was at my best on the line. We had a good line radio shop at Pan Am. Bob Thebert and Oscar Buschbom ran it.

Oscar just died a month ago. He knew the radio end of it while Bob was an old timer at Pan Am and knew the political side and that combination really worked beautifully.

But then came deregulation and Pan Am came unglued.

I worked for a year as electrician at the Miami Herald and then got into Eastern Airlines Lockheed 1011 Service center.

If ever you go to Miami, Milo, take the Miami Herald tour. Their rotary press machines can print a one ton roll of newsprint in 20 minutes and they have 64 of them.

They start printing the comics for the Sunday paper on Wednesday. Getting the Sunday paper out on Saturday night is one incredible event. When I was there 35 trucks could be loaded automatically on one side of the building and about 50 on the other side manually. As soon as one truck was loaded another would pull in and this continued all Saturday night. They put several million papers out – each one weighing a pound apiece – every Saturday night.

After working at the Miami Herald I got on with Eastern Airlines. The Lockheed L-1011 airliner, that Eastern was flying was a total disaster. The plane had five toilets all right next to each other in the back of the airplane and it continually stunk of urine back there. They would perfume it with sprays but even then the stench was so bad there was no way they would even dare to seat anyone in the last three rows of seats in the rear of a L-1011. The RB-211 engine in that airliner was so bad that it bankrupted Rolls Royce. That airplane plus that engine helped send Eastern into bankruptcy too.

As long as Eddie Rickenbaker ran Eastern, Eastern made money. As soon as he left it lost money. I feel certain that Rickenbaker never would have bought that L-1011.

I asked Fred Hall, Eastern’s President how it felt to have both the L-1011 and the RB-211 engine. He replied "Ohhhh," in a long sorrowful sigh.

Our problem with the RB-211 engine in Miami was that the engine could not be started without it going over the allowed temperature range. In Miami on start up it would always overtemp and every time that is done a slight portion of the combustion chamber burner can areas burn away. A jet engine reaches its highest temperature just before startup. After it starts up then as we say 'you have a light' and on the instrument panel the rpm goes up and the temperature goes down as more cooling air rushes through the engine to cool it.

I was still at Eastern when ex-astronaut Frank Borman became Eastern’s CEO and President. My first impression of him was good because while making television commercials in Miami’s concourse B the person making the commercial told the captain in the L-1011 to bring the airplane into the gate fast. Borman immediately countermanded that order and said, "Bring it in safely."

Borman was forever walking around and asking people, "What are you doin’ here?" I must have heard him ask that to a hundred different workers.

I had enough of it working on the L-1011 because it had too many problems no one could easily solve. There were far too many ‘no dual’ light write ups in the log books and there was no easy way to get that ‘no dual’ light out unless you changed many devices until the light went out. Lockheed did build a computer that might tell you exactly which unit to change but the airplane would be out of service for more than a day while all the large electrical cannon plugs of Lockheed's huge van type computer were being installed and removed; so this expensive, elaborate computer, that had its own specially trained engineer, was seldom used for ordinary maintenance.

One Captain refused to take his L-1011 and no one knew how to fix the problem. People gradually left the cockpit leaving me and the captain alone. I saw another L-1011 boarding and said, "Let’s look at another one." We both left and boarded the other L-1011 and both Captains talked and we found both airplanes had the same problem.

Delta Air Lines lost millions in deposit money to Lockheed because they refused to take the L-1011s they ordered. But Delta is still here and Eastern isn't. One reason for that was the L-1011. In my opinion It was the worst airliner that I ever worked on.

Since my house was paid for and I also had rental property, I had too much to lose by signing off items on the L-1011. Besides having my Airframe and Powerplant license and my First Class Radiotelephone license with RADAR Endorsement, I also had my Dade County Electrician's license and enough seniority at Eastern to bid and get a job away from airplanes entirely. It was at the same pay rate so I did it and became an ordinary electrician at the terminal totally away from working on airplanes. One day one of the airport Wackenhut security guards told me something very unusual happened as Borman was seeing off his friend who was coming through security to board an airplane that day.

A few hours later in Eastern’s Ionosphere lounge I was dragging a ladder with one hand and I had a light bulb in my other hand and here comes Borman over to me and asks me, "What are you doin’ here?"

I didn’t even answer him. I put the ladder in place, went up the ladder and replaced the burned out ceiling bulb. Borman looked up at me and said, "Oh." But he remained at the base of the ladder and I just knew he was going to get after me for not immediately answering him. But I was the first to speak as I came down the ladder and I said, "I understand your friend tried to bring a gun on an airplane." Frank Borman must have looked at me in absolute silence for about five seconds and then quickly said, "I’ve got a lot of friends." He then abruptly turned away and was swiftly gone out of the Ionosphere lounge.

I loved Miami and the aviation scene, Milo. I sold parts and things and had rental property there and it was a good life. I was talking to my cousin the other day about it and he said, "It was country when we first went there."

It sure was.

He and his brother came there a bit after me. We are all here in Tennessee now.

Fitz

 

 

I wrote about this to Dr. Milo Wolff because we both have a pilot's license and we see the same science picture but I don't drive quite as fast as Milo does. I visited Milo recently and he kept right up with the 80-mph traffic taking me to John Wayne airport in California and he's older than me at 87. But back to our story:

. . .

I was not supposed to fly through clouds but as a kid I did and found that whenever I came out of a cloud that the ground below me was always tilted. It would take a second or two for my mind to become properly oriented until I saw it again as level.

The reason for this is the combination of centrifugal force with gravity throws the pilot off from where the ground really is. I did not have gyro instruments, not even a gyrocompass, on that first airplane of mine. My magnetic compass – because it was contained in a fluid – had lag and would not immediately tell me I was starting to turn. In a turn, two forces are pulling you: gravity and centrifugal force. The resultant force – that you think is gravity – is no longer straight down so this throws you off as to the position of the level earth beneath you. Therefore when you come out of the cloud, the ground – for a second or so – seems at first tilted, one way or the other, from where you first expect it to be. This is known as "spatial disorientation".

Many folks reading this will know that Jimmy Doolittle headed the group that bombed Tokyo early in World War ll. What many don’t know was that he was one of the pioneers in instrument flying. He worked for years to perfect our first gyro flight instruments. He was also the very first pilot to take off, fly and then land completely relying on nothing but his instrument panel. He could not see out of his cockpit but his gyro instruments along with the radio range audio signals kept him perfectly oriented all through that historic first instrument flight.

A spinning gyroscope holds its position to the surrounding stars. This has been proven beyond a doubt but the reason gyros do this is still not agreed upon. Is it linked to Mach's principle? I've put my two cents in on this in other publications so I'm not going to bother you with all that here only to say scientists are still arguing about this one. So even our best scientists can't tell us exactly why gyros do this but they all know gyros do hold their positions to the surrounding stars. But you can use things even though you don't know exactly why these things work. Even without knowing how they work, engineers have made great strides in giving us gyro aircraft instruments that allow us to keep our aircraft flying straight and level even when we can't see outside. I knew all this even before I left high school and always wanted to have an airplane equipped with these gyro instruments even before I really knew how to properly utilize them.

A bit more than three years after I sold my first airplane – after I had done my stint in the Army Signal Corps – I had made enough money to buy an airplane with a basic gyro instrument panel. Finally, I was able to properly fly through clouds and stay correctly oriented while inside them.

It was an old man who gave me the best advice and probably even saved my life by pointing to the instrument panel on my new airplane and telling me, "If you ever get in a cloud, where you can't see anything, then keep that turn and bank needle centered with your hand control (either stick or wheel) and center that ball (in the curved tube) with your feet (rudder control) and hold everything this way until you are out of it and can again see." [My further explanation inside (black parenthesis)]

Knowing that saved my life and my brother's too because he was with me over New Jersey when I got caught in some really bad stuff and couldn't see anything whatsoever. I did immediately center both the needle and ball – keeping them both centered – until I finally got down low enough to see the ground, through the fog, and located Route 10 and followed it back, staying just above the very same roads I drove to get to Hadley airport – as if I was driving there in a car – and safely landed there that way.

On July 16, 1999, John F. Kennedy Jr. – the president's son – evidently didn't keep the needle and ball centered on his instrument panel in the Piper Saratoga he was flying. He lost control of the airplane while he was flying in bad haze killing himself, his wife and his sister in law. The National Transportation Safety Board said the crash was probably the result of several things including "spatial disorientation"; yes, exactly right because this was what I suffered as I tried to keep oriented flying through those clouds in my first airplane that didn’t have gyro instruments.

You can fly by the seat of your pants, as long as you can see. When you can no longer see, you had better trust your instrumentsnot your senses – to fly the airplane. Luckily I learned this early on and listened to what that old man told me about how important it was to keep the needle centered with my hand control and to keep that ball centered with my feet. I know Kennedy did have some instrument flight training and his Piper Saratoga airplane did have the necessary gyro instruments. If only he knew how vitally important it was to keep both that needle and ball centered then he might still be alive today.

My son, Richard, has his helicopter rating. I don’t. But I’ve spent enough time on the helicopter simulator to tell you – the ones reading this that might not know – that a helicopter is quite a bit harder to fly than an airplane.

I’m no helicopter expert but so far, my opinion is that they fly somewhat like an airplane at straight and level faster speeds and you can even relax a bit then. However, at slower speeds or changing altitude, your eyes have to be constantly monitoring that instrument panel. And if it was me flying the helicopter then I would have to be taking extra amounts of blood pressure medication as well.

We didn't have aircraft simulators back when I started flying but we did have the Link Trainer and it did a good job of preparing pilots for instrument flying. I put in a few hours on the Link Trainer, but even better than that, I flew with a good friend, Harry Kirk, where we both took turns using a hat type head cover that restricted our view to the instrument panel only. We both practiced instrument flying that way on the old AN radio range system. You would get a Morse code A on one side of the beam and a Morse code N on the other side. You got a steady signal when you were flying the beam itself.

A vast improvement over the old AN range system were the installation of hundreds of omni-range stations by the U.S. government all over the country. Using these a pilot could, in a few minutes if he had omni, tell exactly where he was by taking the bearings of two omni stations and drawing those two bearing lines on a map and the aircraft was where the two lines intersected on the map.

This worked fine flying over countries that were rich enough to put up all these omni range stations. However, Pan American Airways flew over oceans and much of the world where omni stations did not exist. I was working for Pan Am when they paid one million dollars per airplane to install inertial guidance systems on their airplanes. These devices gave the pilot a latitude and longitude readout. They were being installed about 1965 and these pilots were perhaps the very first commercial pilots to instantly know exactly where they were all the time as they flew. Before that, the most accurate navigation, over the ocean, was celestial navigation. This was done by getting star sightings with a bubble sextant and then working out the math using the latest celestial almanac. Before the hand held computer, just doing the math took 10 to 15 minutes. You finally knew (within five miles of) where you once were, 10 to 15 minutes later – after the star sightings were taken.

Science has advanced so rapidly that today using a $100.oo GPS, a person flying or even driving a car can get a more accurate reading of where they are than Pan Am got, forty-six years ago, by paying one million for each inertial guidance device.

 

 

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I had three years of German in high school and then went into the Army Signal Corps and, as luck would have it, was stationed in Germany where I put that German language training to good use. The 4 lane German autobahn really impressed me with its two lanes in one direction separated from the two lanes of cars going the opposite way by plenty of distance and shrubbery so at night no one was blinded by approaching car lights. The autobahn also had long sweeping curves that even the fastest cars could manipulate without losing control. This was one truly magnificent road. Why didn't we have something like this in America I wondered? I drove military vehicles on the autobahn from 1951 until 1954 and for those three years the autobahn was practically devoid of any traffic whatsoever. I was entirely alone driving on the autobahn way back then. I can't remember ever seeing another vehicle – even another military vehicle – on the German autobahn in those years where I made trips from Karlsruhe to Heidleberg on the autobahn. I did see plenty of vehicles on various other German roads, especially in the cities, back then but never on the autobahn. It was an empty road way back then but it certainly didn't stay empty in the following years.

It was against the law to even walk across the autobahn. It might still be. Even if the autobahn separated a farmer's field, he could not cross it with his horse and wagon. That was illegal and probably rightly so because there was no speed limit on the autobahn system at the time I was there. Now, I believe only certain sections of the autobahn have no speed limit.

There were other cars on the autobahn in those years. I do know that even though I never saw any. When I was stationed in Pirmasens in 1953 the son of the owner of one of the largest shoe factories in Pirmasens was killed on the autobahn when his speeding car went far off the road and hit a nearby apple tree.

I also have to tell you about my roommate, John Goretsky's driving experience. "Want to see my court-martial?" John Goretsky asked me one day. John Goretsky was found guilty on all three counts of his court-martial. It said:

Count 1: Private John Goretsky did, under the influence of an intoxicating beverage, willfully misappropriate one jeep - property of the United States Government.

Count 2: Private John Goretsky did drive said jeep - without proper authorization - out of the Army area and onto a German road.

Count 3: Private John Goretsky did, in said jeep, on said German road, collide with a stone wall - part of a dwelling.

"You're a soldier, John!" was an often-repeated phrase that I heard Private John Goretsky using.

My other roommate was an American Indian who everyone called Chief and who wanted the lower bunk. I told him that he was assigned the upper bunk and I took the lower bunk, which was assigned, to me. But our first night together Chief came in drunk, got into the upper bunk and vomited all over me so I gracefully accepted the Chief's proposal and I took the upper bunk.

In Karlsruhe, Germany I heard this clanging of a bell getting louder and louder and I turned around to see a streetcar coming at me. I jumped away just in the nick of time. I learned fast what that bell meant. I stayed well away from streetcar tracks and street cars from then on.

Streetcars were free to soldiers when I first came to Germany in 1951 but that soon changed and we had to pay to use the street cars in later years but it wasn't that much. I believe that I walked, in Germany, more miles than I traveled via the streetcar. I also loved eating Wiener Schnitzel (breaded veal cutlet). God, I ate lots of that during my three years in Germany. In Pirmasens I ate it almost every night. That could be part of the reason why I have to take blood pressure medication now at 78 years of age.

I liked Germany and loved walking through the woods several miles to the city of Karlsruhe from where I was stationed in the 17th Signal Battalion, at the Forstner Kasserne which was later renamed D'Isely Barracks. Although we had neolite, long wearing, shoe soles in 1951, our army dress soles were still leather and would wear out pretty fast. I had to have my dress shoes resoled several times. We had to wear our class "A" uniform while off the base but I preferred using my combat boots with it rather than my dress shoes. I remember even dancing with the girls in my combat boots. I did a lot of walking both in Germany and France. While many of whom I had taken the 16 weeks of Infantry basic training with, were fighting in Korea, here I was drinking beer and having the time of my life with all the German girls far from all the worries and fighting. There seemed to be plenty of girls my age but few males. I suppose a great many boys my age died in the "Hitler Youth".

There was not supposed to be any punishment for soldiers who caught a venereal disease and reported themselves but our company commander was Augi Maki and his strict Japanese training would not allow him to be lenient so when someone came down with the clap they would get camouflage training. These soldiers would have to dig a hole deep enough to drive a jeep into. Then they would have to fill in the hole again. All this would have to be done on their regular off duty time. I remember this one soldier bugging me to get a road trip authorization, which I did. He had gotten the clap and was being treated by a German doctor rather than dig a hole for Augi Maki. He told me, "Hurry up and get that trip ticket. Whenever I go into the men's room it burns so bad I feel I could bend those water pipes on the walls." I got a trip ticket to road test a jeep and drove him to his German doctor.

I heard my company commander say, "We are here to prevent the Russians from making any further inroads into Germany." I laughed at that statement. Russia had more than twice the armed men, just in Germany alone, than we had. The Russians would have made mincemeat out of the 17th Signal Battalion. I figured that me, Goretsky and the Chief all together were no match for even one lowly Russian soldier. We didn't even have M1-rifles. We had M1-carbines that were no match against a good Russian rifle. No, I thought to myself, I'll put in my time here but I'm quitting this army after that. And that's what I did too. But I did enjoy being there. They fed me. They paid me and put a roof over my head. And best of all I got 30 days furlough each year and I used that to travel all over the world with the U. S. Air Force.

I took one 30 day furlough flying over almost all of North Africa, starting at a U. S. Air Force base in Morocco, close to Casablanca, and ending in Cairo Egypt where, on landing, I learned Eisenhower had been elected president. On one flight over North Africa I was somehow up front, with the flight crew, and the captain was pointing out the tank tracks, below in the sand, made by quantities of tanks that had passed that way during the engagements against Rommel six or seven years earlier. Years of wind had still not completely erased all those tank tracks.

General Naguib had overthrown King Farouk and I watched as all these beds from Farouk's palace – with the girls still in them – were being paraded down the main streets of Cairo. That really was a sight to see. I walked to the Egyptian Museum, from my hotel, and was there one entire day. There were Egyptian guards there but I can not remember seeing very many other paying people there. I had that huge Museum almost all to myself the entire day.

In the basement of the museum there was this huge inscribed slab and luckily a translation in English of the Pharaoh saying, "I have given you food from upper and lower Egypt and have provided sandals for your feet so that you can carve this image of mine into this rock so it will be pleasing to the gods and all of us may benefit therefrom." I read that and said to myself, "Yep, it's essentially the same message that I saw plastered all over the walls at G.M. when our high school toured the General Motor assembly plant in Linden, NJ."

The folks runnin' the show haven't changed the message even one iota in thousands of years.

Dick Costello and I, both U.S. soldiers in civilian clothes, took a taxi to the British Army base at Ismailia hoping to get a flight out. There were wide awake British soldiers with their tripod mounted Sten guns – at intervals – all along the Suez canal as we drove along that road. However, the taxi driver was able to drive us right through the gate at the Ismailia base and we even got saluted by the sentry but not even inspected at all. A Scottish officer took a liking to us and we ate from regular plates in the officer's mess, that night, while he explained to us that this was a real hornets nest now at the Suez and there was no way we could get a British flight out of Ismailia. My buddy and I slept in a tent there that night but no officer's breakfast the next morning. We were issued tea with a loaf of bread and a big knife to cut off as much as we wanted. That was our breakfast. My friend Richard Costello paid for a flight out of Cairo but I got out on an Air Force flight to Daharan in Saudi Arabia.

The penalty for stealing in Saudi Arabia was that your right hand was cut off. Many of these hands adorned the main gate to the city of Daharan. When I was in Saudi Arabia, over half a century ago, toilet paper was scarce but sand – to clean your left, toilet, hand off with – was plentiful. In Saudi Arabia only your left hand is used for toilet purposes. Only your right hand is used to take food from the community food bowl. The U. S. President, I believe it was Roosevelt, gave a Cadillac to King Saud that he used extensively but the King never used the English Rolls Royce that Churchill gave him because by using that he would have to be sitting up front on the left side of the car next to the driver's stink hand.

I saw the Comet take off from Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. It needed almost all of Jiddah’s long runway to get up and into the air. The airport at Jiddah did have a long runway but not much else. I would never have believed, back then, that Jiddah airport would be even a fraction of what it is today.

With no free military flights available, I had to pay for a flight to Eritrea. Moreover, getting out of Eritrea was a problem because they wanted a bribe for an exit visa. After I sat in their office for many hours I finally got an English employee there to stamp something in my passport allowing me to leave.

After Eritrea, I ended up in Khartoum. General Kitchener drastically changed the streets of Khartoum and laid out the streets in his new city of Khartoum so three Machine guns alongside the Nile could control the town. But that was back when the city was a lot smaller than it is today. Nevertheless, you can look at a map of Khartoum today to see where those three original Maxim guns were located.

I swam in the Nile at Khartoum but probably shouldn’t have because of the liver fluke disease bilharziasis. We now know many of the ancient Egyptians died of that disease.

I remember seeing the great silver dome of the Mahdi mosque as I departed Khartoum by train heading back to Cairo. My train to Cairo rode on the same rails Kitchener had laid to save General Gordon. But the Mahdi had killed Gordon just before Kitchener got to Khartoum.

Most of the trip back to Cairo was not by rail but down the Nile by boat. You can’t go the entire trip down the Nile by boat though because of the cataracts (waterfalls). Back then Abu Symbol was right on the river’s shore; we passed it at night and a giant search light, on our boat, illuminated it as we sailed by that old Egyptian masterpiece. It was a majestic sight indeed.

I loved that trip down the Nile and when again entering Egypt from The Sudan, I was questioned where I had originally entered Egypt and I responded "Farouk Field." The person questioning me said, "Cairo International airport". I said, "No, Farouk Field." He again responded, "Cairo International Airport". I then realized that there had been a name change since King Farouk's ouster. I responded, "Oh Yes, Cairo International Airport." He then stamped my new entry visa into Egypt and I traveled the rest of the way down the Nile toward Cairo.

In Cairo I got a U.S. Air Force flight that finally deposited me at the U.S. air base in Tripoli early on Thanksgiving and I was able to get a wonderful Thanksgiving meal at the Air Force mess hall. I'll never forget that good meal after eating non refrigerated food for almost 30 days. That Thanksgiving meal was like heaven. There was even a little bit of wine, in a tiny paper cup, and a cigar with my meal. I finished the meal, drank the wine, lit the cigar, and headed to the airforce base movie house where I saw the movie "High Noon". Man, that was the end of a perfect day. Even though I was really still in Africa, I felt that I had finally arrived back home in America again.

 

 

 

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When I first arrived in Germany, in the army, our troop train had pulled up right next to this other train and the car that I was in was right across from the locomotive on the other train. I asked this plump German locomotive engineer, in German, "What is the name of the gas that is caused by boiling water." "Dampf", he answered. I knew all those other words in German but I didn't know the word for steam. I remember that incident just as if it happened yesterday.

I should have known the word for steam because I knew the word for ocean liner in German was Dampfer. But I never connected it with being Steamer until that locomotive engineer gave me the word Dampf.

Here in America, as a kid, I remember being in Netcong NJ and seeing a steam train start up right in the middle of town! This locomotive engineer had so many heavy cars that his big wheels just spun around really fast and he went nowhere. So he dumped sand, on the track, from some sort of mechanism in front of his wheels and that did the trick giving him more friction on the track and then the locomotive slowly started pulling all the cars out of the city gaining speed gradually as he went.

I soon learned that America was well ahead of Germany with our diesel-electric railway locomotives. Germany was still using mostly steam locomotives when I arrived there in 1951.

We, in America, had mostly diesel-electric locomotives by then. They were all made by General Motors after G.M. bought Electro-Motive Engineering Corporation and created the G.M. Electro-Motive Division. But these Winton gasoline-electric locomotives had to be radically modified by G.M. first. This was done by G.M.'s research division headed by Charles F. Kettering, who invented the self-starter, the modern exceptionally simple "make and break" ignition system, tetraethyl lead (gasoline antiknock additive) along with a host of other things. He also wrote a book that is well worth reading. Kettering spent quite a bit of his own personal time perfecting an 8 cylinder 2 cycle diesel engine to replace Electro-Motive's original Winton gasoline engine. Kettering knew that more power and more economy were both needed and his team created the diesel-electric locomotive, with both increased power and economy so that it could be a real winner on the railways. It certainly turned out to be just that! G.M.'s 600 hp engines were pulling trains in 1936 and in 1938, an even larger G.M. 567 series diesel engine machine could do twice the work of a steam locomotive at half the expense. It won out over the steam locomotive. Diesel-electrics were not only better than steam locomotives but they could be built faster; they could be overhauled faster and they could be refueled far, far faster than steam locomotives. G.M. built thousands of 567 diesel engines during the war. They helped us win the war. Germany didn't have the G.M. diesel-electric. We did!

Kettering actually had to do a lot of work refining the diesel engine itself. Rudolph Diesel had so many of his diesel engines explode and harm people that he prohibited any experimenting on running diesels at a fast speed and he controlled the patents on that engine. So even when better steel was being produced, Germany lagged far behind on diesel research until well after Rudolph Diesel died. It was Kettering's team at G.M. that provided us with the first real diesel-electric railroad winner. In this successful G.M. diesel-electric design, the diesel engine only runs an electric generator. All the wheels are turned by electric motors.

There wasn't much at all transported on the roads back then. America transported 98% of what it needed via railroads and ships as World War ll began. It was only small farmers that used the roads to bring their produce into nearby cities before the war and some of them were still using horse and wagons up until about 1950. I'll say again what I have said before, "We did not have anywhere near the roads nor even the road system back then that you see here in America today." We did have tractor-trailers. I drove one in the Army in 1951. However, the trailers were not nearly as long as they are now and they were nowhere near as plentiful as now either.

What may seem incredible to many reading this today is the fact that in the late 1930s it was Adolph Hitler who saw the power available in perfecting and making full use of the road system. Hitler perfected the autobahn in Germany. All the World War l transport was done on ships and railroads. Hitler saw the French were planning to do this in World War ll as well. So in all Hitler's invasion planning he made it a point that his Stuka airplanes were to only machine gun the people on the roads driving them to the sides of the roads. Then came other Stukas that bombed them on the sides of the roads leaving the roads intact for Hitler's advancing army. This was part of Hitler's Blitzkrieg or "Lightning war". It worked!

The two Americans who saw the importance of the roads were General Patton and General Eisenhower. Even before he became general, Eisenhower had moved a great quantity of troops via our antiquated road system and gained notoriety this way. Patton knew – and in fact used – all the old Roman roads; he knew these were best to use in the rainy season because these were originally built on higher land that didn't flood.

The Romans did build roads from their cities to the ocean that were lower and that acted as both roads and sewers carrying the rain drain water, and even a bit of road trash, to the ocean. If you visit Pompei, you will see it as a tiny copy of Rome itself. Here is a city where every road is not only a paved road of stone but all of these paved stone roads are slightly sloped so they all drain into one major road that drains into the ocean. And on this major drainage sewer road you can even see the stepping stones in Pompei. I have never seen Herculaneum but I would bet it's the same there. A person could cross these main sewer roads using these stepping-stones whenever the road was full of water acting as a main sewer. All Roman carts had a standardized wheelbase and this allowed them to install these stepping-stones. These Roman carts must have had brakes as well because at main intersections, at Pompei, I saw wheel groves in some of these cobble stones; some that were worn and grooved inches lower where, over a long period of time, many thousands of wheels must have been suddenly stopped by braking thus wearing and grooving the street pavement stones down inches deeper at those main intersection braking spots. Look for those worn deep grooves at main intersections if you ever go to Pompei.

America prospered because we had a government that provided the institutions and framework that allowed the free market system to function and flourish. It was exactly the same back then for Rome. Rome was surrounded by the seven hills whose water the Roman government captured for the city by building aqueducts. This coupled with paved roads enabled the city of Rome to mass produce similar to the way Egypt did but Rome added the free market system to this, including freedom of religion* and even out did Egypt. (*The religion had to be ancient, not some new belief such as Christianity.)

Back then the Roman aqueducts were bringing water into not only Rome but later other Roman confederation cities as well thus enabling all these cities to harbor far more souls and become the world's first factory outlets with huge quantities of cheap labor available to furnish the world with all those commodities this world wanted. What did the world want that Rome was making? Ever hear of monosodium glutamate? The 2009 Britannica DVD will tell you it's a: white crystalline substance, a sodium salt of the amino acid glutamic acid, that is used to intensify the natural flavour of certain foods. MSG was first identified as a flavour enhancer in 1908 by Kikunae Ikeda of Japan What the Britannica fails to tell you is that the Romans were essentially manufacturing this by decaying fish. They further refined this and shipped it in flasks all over the known world. One shipload of this was worth then, far more than a million dollars in our money today. And that is only one instance of the millions of things Rome was exporting. Rome did back then essentially what China is doing today. Roman ships, aqueducts and roads allowed Rome to be the manufacturing center for the world thus allowing Rome to prosper and grow like Egypt and then Greece before them had prospered and grown.

I suppose I did venture a bit away from our present travel aspect of it all by remembering that General Patton used the old Roman roads but I felt I had to give you this part of the travel picture that was in my mind as well.

I'm glad I rode on plenty of those old steam trains while in Europe. There are not too many places in the world where you can travel by steam locomotive anymore. Traveling through Germany – by train – was far different from traveling through France, Italy or Switzerland. Not only are all trees owned by the government in Germany, but houses can not be built in German forests so when you ride in the train through Germany you will see miles of pure forest then all of a sudden you’ll come to a cluster of red roofs with a church steeple sticking up among them – a Dorf – (Village); then you will travel for more miles of nothing but forest and all of a sudden you’ll see another Dorf. It's like seeing an actual Disneyland for real.

European train passenger cars are unlike American train passenger cars; European cars all have compartments in them. I certainly hope they have changed their heating arrangements since I was there. Each compartment had a heater lever by the passenger's feet. They had a window to the outside and on the opposite end of the 8-passenger compartment, there was a door that opened into the aisle.

In wintertime, the passenger closest to the heating lever pulled it to the hot position thus heating the car. Then as the compartment got too hot the passenger closest to the aisle door opened it and the passenger closest to the window opened it while the person closest to the heating lever closed it cutting off the heat. Then the compartment eventually got too cold so the heating lever was opened up again and the window was closed and the aisle door closed. This eventually made the compartment too hot so with everyone acting again, everyone got hotter and colder and hotter and colder and hotter and colder as the train trip progressed.

Maybe they have thermostatically controlled heat now; maybe they don't.

 

 

* * * * *

Ocean going Ships

 

First we had sailing ships on the oceans, then steam ships with piston engines driving paddle wheels. After that these piston engines were becoming more efficient and also they were driving propellers that were more efficient than paddle wheels. Fuel efficiency was far more important on ocean crossings than on river transport where fuel was readily available. Then came the era of the steam turbine, which turned out to be even more efficient than steam piston engines and less prone to failure. Steam Turbines took over and propelled even the largest of the great ocean liners. But then in the 1950s came the era of the jet turbine aircraft engine that had one twentieth the in flight failures of the old aircraft piston engines. Jets were faster too. As more jet airliners came into the business it became cheaper to fly by air than to cross the ocean by ship. By 1960 it was evident that the days of the great ocean liners were over: far more folks were now going over the oceans by air than by water. Small ocean liners that could also be used as cruise ships such as the Queen Elizabeth - 2 were the only ocean going passenger ships making money after the late 1950s.

In 1949 just these two ships alone, the Queen Mary and the original larger Queen Elizabeth, returned a profit to Cunard Shipping Lines of fifty million dollars. In 1958 the brand new Liner "United States" became the fastest ocean liner in the world but one year later – because of these new jet airliners – she was carrying 25% fewer passengers. By 1962 Cunard was losing about five million dollars a year. That’s how fast things changed for the shipping industry as the jet airliner took over.

 

Efficiency, the Steam Turbine & more

I can remember being with my father as he drove his car onto the ferry going to New York about 1941. He said, "I want to show you the steam engine pushing this ferry boat." Looking down from above I could see these three big cylinders. The cylinder closest to me was the smallest then the one next to it was about two and a half times its diameter and the third cylinder was about two and a half times the diameter as the second cylinder. My father said, "To make an efficient steam engine the pistons have to be larger and larger like on this – triple expansion system – engine." I learned, that day, that the steam went first to the smallest cylinder then the lower pressure exhaust steam from that was sent to the second bigger cylinder and the even lower pressure exhaust steam from that was sent to the largest cylinder. The total force on the top of all these different sized pistons in this – triple expansion system – was equal because the area of these pistons increased as the steam pressure decreased. Steam engines not built like this were simply not fuel efficient steam engines because they wasted power still available in the lower pressure steam being exhausted.

It was not until Charles Algernon Parsons figured out how to design this same concept – of not wasting steam power – into the turbine that the steam turbine would be able to obsolete the steam piston engine. Charles worked on this for years. He finally had his steam turbine triple expansion system – engine of 2,100 horsepower, perfected and installed in his 44 ton Turbinia that was 9 feet wide and 100 feet long.

One June day in 1897 while Queen Victoria was watching her Royal Navy put on its show, Charles Parsons raced his Turbiniain an uninvited run – at a speed of about 35 knots right down the review lane in front of all the battleships infuriating the Royal Admiralty. But no one had ever seen anyone travel over the water at this fast a speed! The entire world was introduced to the capabilities of the steam turbine that day.

The Turbinia had a propeller, of course, because it had long been realized that it took 5 tons of coal using a paddle wheel while the same ship with the same size engine, doing the same work only needed 3.28 tons of coal if it used a propeller.

The steam engines in 1840 operated on about 9 pounds of steam pressure but by 1880 most were operating at about 90 pounds of steam pressure and they were becoming far more efficient as well.

A Frenchman had a steam vessel in 1783 and Robert Fulton was going up the Hudson River using steam in 1807. Fulton had the first steamboat on the Mississippi in 1811 and ten years later New Orleans could boast of 1,200 steamer dockings per year on the Mississippi.

In 1819 an American steam paddle wheeler crossed the Atlantic but used sail far more than steam. The first ship to use mainly steam to cross the Atlantic was the Royal William that got a sustained speed of eight knots – using steam only – in 1833 with a steam pressure of 5 pounds per square inch. Both sails and steam continued to be used together not only for safety but these early steam engines needed a lot of down time for their necessary maintenance. It was only after twin engines with twin propellers became common that masts and sails finally disappeared from these ocean going steam ships.

In England once, I decided to visit Greenwich on the zero longitude line where the Cutty Sark is. I really went there to see Harrison’s chronometer in the Royal Naval museum. The captain on the British ship first to use it was the first navigator to know his longitude at sea. Without a chronometer all you can tell using a sextant is your latitude. With a chronometer you can fix your position and tell were you are within two miles and using a bubble sextant (necessary on aircraft) within five miles.

As my train drew closer to Greenwich I could see both the church steeple and the masts of the Cutty Sark. The masts of the Cutty Sark looked even higher than the church steeple. Those clipper ships could hold an awfull lot of canvass and the Cutty Sark was one of the fastest clipper ships, if not the fastest.

It had an iron frame with wooden planks bolted to the iron ribs. I looked at it realizing that this entire ship was designed not to waste a lot of time riding up and down on the waves but this ship was designed as a true clipper to clip the waves and cut right straight through them thereby wasting less time going up and down on top of the wave. It was built just like a submarine with hatches and doors that were all superbly water tight so the sea could go right over the entire ship as its sails pushed it right straight through all the heavy ocean waves. In fact one of the log entries tells about a person high up in the rigging who looked down to see no ship below but only the masts surrounded by green ocean water. The Cutty Sark itself then was completely under water just like a submarine. The first two skippers sailed it this way too with all the canvas regardless of the wind, letting the powerful wind gusts, now and then, push the entire ship completely under the water occasionally, but the skipper after them was a bit more mindfull of his life and reduced sail area in bad weather and sailed the Cutty Sark more on top of the water.

But when the Scottsman who owned it saw that he could make more money with steam ships, he sold his world renowned clipper ship immediately.


Any travel story must include the iron, double hulled Great Eastern. It had a 1,600 horsepower engine turning a screw propeller and a 1,000 horse power engine turning the paddle wheels and it took 80 men 5 hours just to get all the sails up the vessel's six masts. Sail power was only used during boiler maintenance. There were 10 boilers and 100 furnaces and it carried 3,000 tons of coal sending out its smoke through five smoke stacks. Cyrus Eaton bought this ship in 1864 and finished laying the first cable under the Atlantic, with the ship, on July 26, 1866. The Great Eastern’s combination of paddle wheels and screw propeller turned out to give Eaton the superb, perfect type of control over the ship he desperately needed to lay the first cable under the Atlantic giving England instant communications with America. Eaton bought the ship at a bankrupt sale for about one fortieth of the price that it cost to construct it in 1858. It was five times the size of anything floating the ocean in that era and it was the only ship capable of storing the two thousand miles of cable needed for the transatlantic cable project. It was continuously used to lay underwater ocean cable until 1874. So those were the Great Eastern’s days of glory. It had other not so glorious days too but I’ll let others tell about all those other days.

The reader of every story is forced to at least glance in the direction of the author’s narrow interests. The liner Normandie was born/launched on October of 1932 a month before I was born and launched into this world. During the war, on a trip to New York with my father, I saw this great ocean liner all burnt up and lying on its side in its berth on the Hudson River. Its conversion to a war time troop ship had almost been completed when a welder accidentally started a fire that no one was able to extinguish. As that great southern general Nathan Bedford Forrest related on winning a war was, "Get thar furstus with the mostus." The loss of the Normandie cost us tremendously. We weren’t able to get there as quickly with the most after losing the Normandie.

The Queen Mary was launched a full year after I was born; she and the Queen Elizabeth were both successfully converted into troop ships and both did well in World War ll.

You will hear a lot about steerage class passengers – a much lower class than third class – as you read about these early ocean liners. Factories in the United States always needed more workers therefore emigrants were always welcomed until the early 1920s; then harsh new emigration laws were enacted. That’s when steerage class ended. In 1910 a steerage class ticket cost about $50 to come to America from Europe while a first class luxury suite would cost $3,000 to $4,000 on the same large ocean liner. In steerage, bunks were narrow and four high; there were two baths for every hundred passengers but by 1910 most ships were furnishing steerage passengers with food, which was not the case in far earlier years when, more than a few times, as many as one tenth of the steerage passengers on a vessel died before they even arrived in America. Over 50 million people came to the U. S. via steerage. About a third of the passengers on these early ocean liners were steerage passengers and the money from these made up about half the profits of these ocean liner transportation companies.

Now for some more ocean traveling but this is some venturing on the ocean done by the author himself.

I loved the water and loved Miami and got really caught up into the treasure hunting aspect of it all in the 1950s. I was in my twenties and I do believe I hit on the two best ways to hunt for that underwater ocean treasure. I bought an old Cuban fishing boat. I can still remember John Williams with his girl friend, and me with my girl friend, driving past the Miami boat yards. The girls, who hadn’t yet seen my boat, were both viewing all these multi-million dollar yachts as we passed them. John then said, "Fitz’s boat will be the worst lookin’ one of those things you’ll see today." He was absolutely right too.

I had Tommy’s boat yard, in Miami, seal up all the holes that were originally built into the fish well. I also had the boat yard install, in the bottom of the fishwell, two big portholes that had come off a large ocean going vessel. Two people could lay inside there and look down through those port windows and view the ocean bottom. You slipped the hatch cover over the hatch opening and the fish well was in total darkness and the view of the ocean bottom was spectacular. That only gave a far away view of the bottom of the sea but there was a second way I discovered to find this treasure using a much closer view: I also had a canoe with a square back on which I installed an Evinrude seven and a half horsepower motor. With only two people in it, that canoe would plane the water and fly. I took a 15 inch long piece of tongue and groove sheathing and notched it in the center where a 200 foot rope was tied around those notches in the board. One person would run the outboard and the other could scour the ocean bottom with this using only a mask and snorkel. I had tanks and the other scuba things but only a mask and snorkel was needed using this board and canoe method. With the other end of that long rope tied to the canoe and the motor running at high speed you simply held onto the board with both hands. You merely tilted the board in the direction you wanted to go and away you went. Make it simple; make it work. That was simple and it worked wonderfully well.

I had a ball with both my boats on the ocean but unfortunately did not discover any of that treasure lost long ago.

Once when we were about 3 miles out in the ocean, with that canoe, it got so bad that the small craft warnings were put out. The waves had gotten rather large. I could keep the canoe at a good enough angle with the waves to prevent us from rolling over but in doing that the canoe would have to slide down each wave nose first, and when that nose hit the ocean at the bottom of every big wave about 20 gallons of water would come pouring into the canoe each time the sharp nose of the canoe dug into the water. But we both bailed like crazy and we finally made it back in to Miami OK.

That Cuban fishing boat was a real learning experience though: Sealing up the fish well made the boat ride too high on the water so I added a ton of lead to bring it back down. While that was OK most of the time, you have to understand that this keel board was a pivoting keel in a water tight enclosure, in the center of the fish well, and in really rough seas the water would come out over the top of this enclosure and flood the fish well. If the fish well had been dry for awhile then the dry boards would have shrunk a bit and there would be cracks between the fish well boards. The sea water would then come through those cracks directly into my boat and even after dumping a lot of sawdust in the fish well water to stop up those cracks, I would still have to really pump quite a bit, using a hand pump, to stay afloat. Moreover, when that fish well got filled – along with all that lead I added – that boat was riding dangerously low in the rough ocean water.

I took one trip with this old guy who claimed he flew with Forty Squadron in the First World War. He seemed to know a bit about boats but when we were about a mile off shore he, for some reason, pulled the steering bar out of the round rudder post that came up through a round hole in the deck a few feet from the stern. As I looked back I was horrified as I saw that entire round rudder post, with the rudder attached to it, go down through that round deck hole and then it was gone in the ocean as we sailed far away from it.

I rigged up some oars as a temporary – but nowhere near as good – a rudder and did finally get back but it took quite a while. For weeks I scouted around and at last found a huge iron pipe the size of the original rudder post and then got a heavy half inch thick steel plate the size of the old rudder. I did a lot of hand hack-sawing to saw a half inch slot through both sides of that heavy iron post into which the plate would fit, and I still remember Pat Williams moving his kitchen electric stove and hooking his electric welder to that kitchen stove 220 volt outlet so he could weld that plate to the round post and make me a new – and even better – rudder for that boat.

That Cuban boat had a Model A Ford engine in it. Luckily I had watched and helped a bit when my father replaced a timing gear in his Model A. So when the timing gear failed on my boat engine I knew exactly what to do after I ordered a new timing gear from Sears. The teeth on those Model A Ford timing gears were made from some sort of fiber, I guess those fiber teeth made the engine run quieter. That fiber was just not as strong as steel or they would have lasted longer.

I got towed in twice by the coast guard with that boat. One time while waiting for them at Jupiter inlet, when they finally got to me and I pulled up the anchor rope, five of the six strands had been completely sawed through by those sharp coral rocks, I had just one strand left holding to the anchor.

One time, with that boat when it was still new to me, I was sailing into Miami and I had to let down the sail fast because I could see Bay Front Auditorium and the Library building approaching me fast. But this was a gaff rigged sail and that pole on top of the sail was heavy so a multiple pulley arrangement gave me a three to one (3:1) advantage: For every three feet of rope I pulled down the sail went up one foot. The mast was over thirty feet high so this meant that for this sail to now drop fast then about 100 feet of rope had to go back up just as fast as that sail dropped. The problem was that I had been sailing all day and that rope was scattered all over the deck and all kinds of things had gotten laid on top of it. I had to drop that sail fast because it was pulling me right into Bayfront Park and when that sail dropped and that hundred feet of rope suddenly went up, it threw shoes, clothing, hats, buckets and even a hatch cover into the ocean and all that stuff was gone forever.

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is miles wide at spots and contains a tremendous amount of water that has to flow in and out of the ocean – changing direction – four times a day with the tides that change twice a day. I knew, as I was approaching one of those bridges across the Intracoastal, that I was going to have problems. This one county had dumped several miles of rock roadbed directly, straight, completely across the Intracoastal – totally blocking all that water – and left only the space under one very narrow bridge for all that water to escape from. I had the Model A engine running full speed and I also had my Evinrude – connected to the stern on a bracket. Both engines were pushing that boat and it barely made it through this small narrow bridge channel and both those motors were running at full blast. I guess I could have waited six hours and the tide flow would been reversed then and it would have pulled me through with the Evinrude alone even going at its slowest speed. I’d say many boats actually had to wait – and probably still must wait, for a tide shift – to go under that particular bridge.

Once on that boat the rope had come out of a pulley high up on the mast. So I climbed the ladder rungs – built between the two starboard side, steel cable stays – to fix it. But then one of the steel stays, on the port side of the mast parted, making the mast and the starboard stays (my ladder) as loose as a goose. All of a sudden here I was being twisted around like one of those kids toys that twists around as you pull the strings. I was over the water and then over the boat, then over the water and then over the boat every time the boat rolled. In addition, I was being twisted and smashed into the mast. I knew I had to get down fast before my head got whacked too hard into the mast so I started back down. However, now the mast ropes (many pulley ropes needed for the 3:1 advantage) were wrapping tightly around my legs as the ladder twisted. Not only was I upside down but I had to keep unwrapping my legs continuously just to get down, while continuing down upside down. I'll never forget that one as long as I live.

With a loose mast and without being able to get the sail all the way up I still could sail with the wind. So with a partial sail and the trade winds blowing me back toward the coast of Florida, I really was never worried. But, not being able to correctly trim the partial sail to the center of the boat, I had to stay constantly at the rudder and I mean constantly too. I had water in some stainless steel tanks forward and I remember putting powdered milk into my mouth then racing forward to fill my mouth with water then racing back to the rudder because by then the boat was almost broadside to the waves and getting into a dangerous position. Back at the rudder I would then slosh the water around in my mouth mixing the dry milk and water and giving me a drink of something to keep me going. When I got near the Florida coast a helicopter came over me, then later came the coast guard. Boy was I glad to see them. They towed me in. After that they came aboard and wrote me up for not having a flame arrestor on the Model A engine carburetor.

Another time a glass jug of kerosene must have hit the engine and broke and the kerosene, on top of the water that was always there, in the bilge, because of leaks, must have washed a lot of that grease off the Model A engine. The problem with that was that my pump simply pumped the bilge water up on deck and it ran off the deck into the ocean. This was usually alright but not when all that grease was in the water because now I was far out on the ocean and sliding all around the deck because of all that grease. After that I never brought glass jugs on the boat.

That bilge water would always wash my food cans so that after a few days on the water I didn’t know what I was going to eat when I opened a can; the labels were all gone off of most of them.

As I think back I now know why I never found that treasure. To eat, I had to work. It was all that time out that I took working at my job that left me so little time with my boats that I never really had enough time to find that treasure. And that treasure is all still out there guys and gals waiting for you to find it.

 

 

 

 

 

* * * * *

 

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