The Korean peace treaty was signed several weeks before
I finished Infantry basic, so some of us were freed up to
take tests for other duty. I'm not sure how, but I made a
good score on the electronics aptitude test and was
redirected from Germany to Fort Bliss, Texas. Dave went
to Germany. I did get a lot out of Basic though, including a leaner
more muscled body, and complete loss of high tone hearing.
No ear protection was provided to G.I.s at that time, and I
did love to fire off loud ordnance.
Being accustomed to the beautiful green hills, rivers and lakes
El Paso Texas was at first very depressing. My Basic Training
buddy Chuck Horne and I got off the plane into a blowtorch
of about 110 degrees. A brief taxi ride to a local cantina
took the edge off our disappointment. We later learned to love El Paso.
A great many citizens of this town were either military or
retired military who chose to make their homes there. Unlike
some other hostile base towns, we were warmly welcomed.
Many of us enjoyed forays out into the desert, to Carlsbad Caverns,
and White Sands, New Mexico. We rode horses in Ruidoso, NM and
played golf in Cloudcroft, NM at over 8500 feet. To my amazement,
Cloudcroft looked like Pennsylvania, with green hills, oaks and pines,
only surrounded by the White Sands desert.
And then there was Juarez,
Mexico. Ah Juarez! Where every vendor was a junk dealer, and every
taxi driver had "a very weeling seester who ees also a
virgin, senor". It was no wonder we had to wait a month before
getting our passes okayed for Juarez. In the meantime,
everyone attended the mandatory "She Looks Clean, But Is
Over the next year or so, I was taught Electronics, Analog
Computers, Radar, and all aspects
of the Nike Antiaircraft Missile Fire Control System. For my
final two years in the Army, I was an instructor in these
subjects at Fort Bliss. Mighty fine duty, and it led to a
satisfying career with IBM. It's interesting that I was turned
down for employment by Remington Rand's Univac division,
before being hired by IBM. A very lucky break indeed. During that
time, I was married in Pittsburgh to Jean Fromholzer, bought a
1946 Ford and drove 2000 miles back to El Paso. Carl was born
the following March. In a tragic cooincidence, my lifelong
friend Dave Merkel died of a brain tumor the day before
Carl was born. Mark's middle name is David, in his memory.
We left El Paso in June, 1956 with one year old Carl, and Jean
8 1/2 months pregnant with Mark. If you've ever driven a very long
distance with a woman far along in pregnancy, you will understand
why we made that 2000 mile trip in 50-mile increments. I dropped
Jean off in Pittsburgh, and reported to IBM at Kingston, NY
to start schooling on the Sage Air Defense computer system.
The next 31 years can be traced by births and moves with my
company. Mark was born in Pittsburgh in 1956, Diane in Syracuse,
New York in 1958, Eric in Montgomery, Alabama in 1961 and Dean in
Montgomery in 1964.
Paula was born in Cape Canaveral, Florida
in 1968, where I spent nearly eleven exciting years working on the Apollo
program. IBM worked under NASA contract on all the unmanned and manned Saturn
rockets, all of the moon launches, Apollo Soyuz and Skylab.
Launch Complex 20
of the ladies restroom
An Incident Worth Mentioning
Shortly after arriving in Merritt Island from Montgomery, Alabama in 1965, we drove to Port Canaveral at night to watch our first rocket launch. It was a Navy Polaris missile. I parked in a parking lot and stopped the car in the pitch dark. Before
I shut off the engine, Mark, who was nine years old at the time, jumped out of the car and ran toward the lights of the launch area
and disappeared. I couldn't see one foot! Mark didn't shout or say anything, and I ran
a few feet before I could hear splashing somewhere far below me. I was terrified
that he had fallen into some kind of deep hole, so I jumped into the "hole" and into water. I remember putting him on my shoulders and feeling some pilings and cables around me.
I shouted for help, and someone turned on a flashlight and pulled us both out of the water. We had actually dropped between a big barge and the dock. I don't recall
that Mark seemed scared at all. I was scared enough for both of us anyway.
We all learned a lesson that night, but it didn't slow him down much.
After IBM's role in Apollo and Skylab ended in 1975, I was off to a Manufacturing plant in San Jose, California
for an enjoyable three and a half years.
We returned to Florida in 1979, where I was involved with
the development and manfacture of IBM's early Personal Computers at the Boca Raton facility. I retired
from IBM in 1987, and we moved to peaceful Lake Placid, Florida to enjoy our
As of November, 2011, we have eight grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Every place we lived brought new adventures and happy times, but as the saying
goes in Florida, "Once you have sand in your shoes, you
can never shake it all out."
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