Behind Green Eyes

November 24, 2018 by  

Sasquatch The Search For A New Man

August 6, 2013 by  

“Sasquatch The Search For A New Man”  is the fourth book published by this author and is a compilation of essays written in the narrative form concerning encounters with the enigma known as Sasquatch.  It is the second of three books planned in the non fiction genre dealing with this large being.

Table of Contents

Prologue          Bob Gimlin’s Story                              What happened that day in October, 1967

Chapter 1         Winter Wonderland                             My first encounter

Chapter 2         My Ozette Lake Family                       The first time I KNEW what I was seeing for sure

Chapter 3         Who is Sasquatch                                A day of discovery

Chapter 4         Del Norte Encounter                         A night spent among them

Chapter 5         Butterfield Canyon, UT                     Close sighting in Utah

Chapter 6         Revelations of Novelty                      Observation teaches us wondrous things

Chapter 7         Todd Neiss Encounter                     What happens when a skeptic has an experience

Chapter 8         One Summer Day                            A child’s experience

Chapter 9         Kathi Blount Report                       Are they really aggressive?

Chapter 10       Mindspeak                                       Is it possible?

Chapter 11       Vision – How We See                    Bringing facts to light

Chapter 12       Intermembral Index                       Scientific Proof of their existence

Chapter 13       The Humanity of Sasquatch           Proving their humanity

Chapter 14       Coppeii Creek Homesteaders         Through the eyes of a pioneer lady

Chapter 15       Voices on the Lake                           Kyle’s wondrous encounter

Chapter 16       H.E.R.O. Report                              A whimsey of humorous fiction

Chapter 17       Parts of the Whole                           Understanding  our role

Epilogue          The Time Is Here                             Bringing it all together

To the reader, I guarantee one thing… read this with an open mind and you will come away with knowledge you did not have prior to that reading.

All books ordered here will come signed by the author with a personal note.

Author with a 17″ cast of sasquatch track…

WBS March

March 5, 2012 by  

Western Bigfoot Society
Portland, OR

The first thing I appreciated about this Saturday evening meeting was that the drive from my Tri-Cities, WA home down the Columbia River Gorge and to Pattie’s Homeport Restaurant in northwest Portland, a distance of precisely two hundred and thirty miles, was the beauty of the day. Although

Columbia River Gorge near Hood River, OR

windy, the sun shone brightly on my path making the Columbia River, with its wind driven white caps, literally sparkle in brilliance. This early in March, new grass was not in evidence through the prairies and desert of the eastern half of the journey, but, just a few miles west of the small town of Boardman, home of a major grain shipping terminal, I rounded a curve and was thrilled with the

Mt Hood

sight of Wy’east in the Indian language and Mt. Hood in the predominant tongue of the region looming large on the western horizon. At 11,250 ft, this stratovolcano lies quiescent today but is one of the most likely of the string of such peaks that stretch from northern California to Canada in the Cascade Mountain Range to erupt.

Mt Adams

The truly remarkable thing about this scene was that the 12,280 foot Pahto or, more commonly, Klickitat… Mt Adams in our language was also in brilliant sunlight off to the north of this vista point. Their sister, Loowit, now truncated to a mere 8800 feet after the terrible eruption of 1980 lay unseen in the depths of the Cascades just thirty one miles to the west of Klickitat. This triangle of stone, Wy’east to the south, Loowit to the

Mt Saint Helens pre 1980

north and west and Klickitat to the east form a triangle far more mysterious and foreboding that the more famous triangle which lies off the eastern coastline of the U.S. And… Today… it was all in sunshine! While this is not an uncommon event later in the year, it is highly unusual for the Department of Tourism to have all three erected and visible so early in the year! All too often, it is late April or even, sometimes May before the western peaks, Mt. Hood and Mt. Saint Helens appear in the midday brilliance.

Bighorn Sheep Ewes

I was blessed for sure as the beauty of this land unfolded before me as I lumbered quietly west at seventy plus miles per hour in my modern covered wagon. A summer fire had bared an area of now greening grass near the mouth of the John Day River (named for an Astor man who had lost his mind and died in the wilderness in the teen years of the Nineteenth Century). On this

The Desert of the Dalles (the narrows in french)

impossibly steep bluff overlooking the river, fed a small band of Bighorn Sheep. In the barely few moments I was allowed to view them, I saw no large rams, nor did I expect to see any as they would all be off in their own bachelor bands at this time of year. This band was all ewes and last year’s lambs but still very impressive to see. I saw no pronghorns today, but there were mule deer there. Traffic was light, as usual through this remote stretch of the Pacific Northwest and I completely enjoyed my leisurely drive through God’s great creation.

With only a short Pit Stop to drain the body and refill the drink cup at Biggs Junction, the approximate halfway point on my journey, I continued on… making that remarkable transition from desert to temperate forest in the less than twenty miles that separate The Dalles, OR from Hood River, OR…ever west until I arrived at my destination precisely three and one half hours after leaving my home. The amazing part of this trip is that the actual half way point is, as mentioned, at mp 104 on Interstate Highway 84, Biggs Junction, but the mental dividing line for me comes near mp 10 on that same highway. The

Henry Franzoni

last ten miles of I 84, three miles north on I 5 and seventy three blocks west on Lomard Street from I 5 Exit 305B are crowded, dangerous and downright crazy at times.

I am amazed that people can be so ridiculous in their driving. It is like they are possessed by some kind of demon that controls their very psyche. I witnessed, in that short stretch, some twenty miles in total, more near misses caused by people darting in and out of lines of traffic in some inane effort to be “first” than I did on the preceding two hundred and ten miles combined.

I arrived early enough to enjoy a leisurely meal of a very well made hamburger and fries with a diet cola and conversation with the staff of this tiny oasis in a desert of humanity. The company was convivial with people, as they arrived, introducing themselves and expressing pleasure at meeting me or seeing me again, a phenomenon that I still find disconcerting. First to arrive was our host, Mr. Ray Crowe, one if the grand men of Sasquatch research in the U.S. and the Pacific Northwest. Ray started his queries back in the dark ages. I teased him that he and the first Sasquatch were contemporary so it made it easier to commune with them.

The speaker for the March third meeting was Mr. Henry Franzoni. I’ve heard Henry speak before. It was last June at the Oregon Sasquatch Symposium and I was greatly intrigued by his knowledge and approach to the Being we call Sasquatch. Henry is a self proclaimed math nut and computer geek. He is, by trade, a Fish and Game analyst for the four major Indian tribes of the Intermountain Northwest, to wit, The Yakama Nation in Washington, the Warm Springs Nation and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon and the Nez Perce Nation in Idaho. As such, he travels extensively in these areas.

Henry began his dissertation with an acknowledgement to the WBS founder, Ray Crowe and made note of the fact that, being a dedicated geek, he worked with Ray and created the FIRST Sasquatch internet website ever in existence. At a time back in 1993, when there were less than five hundred websites in the total of the world, one of those was for the Western Bigfoot Society.

“We must remember this,” Henry stated dramatically enough to cause me to draw my pen and abscond with my neighbor’s (unused) napkin to make a note, “we are not investigating science, we are gathering Intelligence on a foreign species.” Henry continued: “Sasquatch is far too intelligent to be experienced in the normal way. You cannot get him into a Lab”

“You know crows as a group,” Henry stated, matter of factly, “but you do not know them individually. To us, every crow pretty much resembles every other crow in existence but the inverse is not true. Crows know us individually. In order to survive, they have to know which of us will provide them food and which will attempt to take their lives. It is essential for their very survival to understand the individuality of persons.”

This brought a thought to my own mind.  Many years ago, I had a friend, Gary, who had a friend, Brad, who hunted crows. One day, Gary and I happened to be in the general vicinity of his Brad’s rural home. We watched from my truck as a flock of crows flew in the general direction of Brad’s home only to suddenly turn ninety degrees and fly well off course from the house. After flying well beyond shooting range from the house, the flock of crows then turned back ninety degrees to resume their original course of flight. Those crows knew who lived in that house and they knew when they were in danger.

Henry then resumed his discourse… “Sasquatch are like crows in that they know who we are, individually, that come into their realm. They respect the level you are on. You will see what you are ready to see and no more. If you are ready to see a Sasquatch cross the road in front of you at night, that is precisely what you will see. If you are ready to see a shadow in the timber, that is what you will see… if you are ready to see a tree peeker peering around a tree in the forest, once again, that is what you will see. But, if you are ready to handle a face to face visit, prepare yourself well, for that is what is coming. Bear in mind please that Sasquatch can either bring couples together or he can split them apart by their very appearance to that couple. Rest assured, whatever you are ready for, they will make a difference.”

I must amend that slightly to warn people that one should not seek to meet these magnificent beings unless the person is ready to accept the fact that they are LIFE-CHANGING in their scope and their power. My own teacher, Akanneesha is very, very powerful. He is so powerful that I cannot be in his physical presence but minutes as he so enervates me that I could not walk away from him if I tarried longer. Do not ask for this boon unless you are ready to accept the consequences. Many of these consequences are positive, but, I must say that there are negatives too. I love the friends I have made, but I’d be as happy if no one knew what I happen to have learned of my hirsute friends… We are Homo sapiens sapiens… Wise Man… they, I feel are Homo sapiens hirsutii… the Hairy Wise Man.

Ray Crowe, Founder WBS

Henry, a man of science far beyond what any of the “coalition” can claim concluded his discussion of the evening with a word to the “science only” community: “If we were investigating a worm, we could use the ‘scientific method’… Sasquatch is too intelligent to be empiricized. The Indians know a lot more about Sasquatch than science knows. And science still refuses to entertain the fact that they might know something of value. To the Chinook, he is Seatco… to the Chehalis he is Sasquatch.. to many other nations, he has many other names but they all mean the same thing… he is merely another tribe. He is not mysterious, evil or threatening, he is simply ‘Brother’… nothing more, nothing less.”

In Henry’s unique position with the four great nations, he hears much, but it is always prefaced with, “this is not to be shared with the white community…” it is felt they would not Respect nor Protect the Skookum Man… our large elder brother… it is my prayer that we do so with a great and enduring vigor.

Respect & Protect

Homo sapiens hirsutii

Ho Nubbie 2011

October 23, 2011 by  

Ho – Nubbie 2011
Thom Cantrall

The Gathering

I met my family this week! Oh, I knew were the Cadre, the core… but between 9-28-2011 and 10-2-2011, I learned what that meant.
In the far southeast corner of a difficult to reach state there lies a virtually inaccessible

Honobia, Oklahoma

microcosm of civilization largely untouched by modern technology. If you venture into that beautiful region of mystic subcultures do not expect to use your cell phone. There is internet service available to a choice few with ample funds to make it happen but forget such amenities as Wifi or other temporary access connections… they simply are not.
What are here in abundance however, are two fold… There are beautiful people and even more beautiful populations of our Primal People. Now, whether these Primal People are here in such quantity due to a gathering or if the population is universally elevated in the remote corner of Mid-America, I cannot, in truth, address for I have been here but this one time and have no experience on which to draw. The regular people had, in fact, gathered here to teach, to learn and to share.
I had been invited to share my experiences in this land of the Choctaw some months before and had flown in to Tulsa in the Sooner State where I was met by my mentor and special Sister. We rendezvoused with another pair of lovely persons and we journeyed and a bit east from the mid-American oil capitol through the land of the Creeks, the Cherokee, the Choctaws and the Chickasaws to the tiny town of Honobia, OK… how this is uttered commonly as Ho-Nubbie, I have not the foggiest idea, but, as with most such anomalia, I merely accepted it and reveled in the difference I felt here soon on. Arla shared the sights as we traveled… from

Tulsa, OK

Collett Hill to Coalton Road… from the site of her first encounter with her Sasquatch to the nearly dry Canadian River. I saw one such great river that, if one were to attempt to fish it, that one should expect to catch more than sand shrimp for there was no water!
We traveled through a geologically interesting area of low hills covered, where natural, in a low growing variety of oak tree… Black Oak I would guess but since I did no dendrological analysis, it is merely a supposition on my part. Interspersed on occasion were pines. They were a three needle pine, meaning that each leaf follicle had been divided into thirds. Due to the relatively long length of these leaves, I believe them to be long leaf pine but, again, I did not attempt to analyze them.

Robert Swain Cartoon


The hills, having come from the mountain west, as I would describe them are actually the roots of an ancient mountain range that had been reared by tectonic activity several hundred million years ago and have since been, with cessation of that tectonic pressure, eroded to the more lowly stature they hold

Three Needle Pine

today. That said, understand these Kiamichi Mountains with bands of sedimentary rock strata and pelt of green with vistas long enough to boggle the very mind are a beautiful and exciting place to be.
It was into this new and strange biome that I, a person reared into the bosom of Redwood trees exceeding three-hundred-fifty feet in height and more than eighty feet in circumference and Douglas Fir trees nearly as tall came to share. The first thing I learned was that the altitude of the mountains has nothing whatsoever to do with the depth of one’s soul. How tall the tree is no determinant of the love and reespect that dwells in the hearts

Kiamichi Mtns

Kiamichi Mtns

of those gathered.
From the first minutes there in the presence of those gathered to the last lingering moments of departure… a departure no one wanted effected… I was Honored! I was loved! I was cared for! But, most importantly, I was respected. I was the eldest so I ate first. I was a guest

Ancient Cherokee Village

so I was given the first and the best… I am of limited mobility, so I was placed in the best, most comfortable seat and I was served my dinner from the loving hands that prepared it. My needs were addressed… my opinion was sought… my bed was warm… my heart was warmer.
We had no lodges, wickiups or tepees. There were no herds of ponies feeding on the silver hazed meadows… but there could have been. Perhaps there even should have been, but those days are irrevocably gone and maybe it is meet that they be so for surely, this gathering could not have occurred had those

Shoshoni Village

been our only options. We were peoples from across the breadth of this land… from the far Pacific Northwest to the very end of the great Southeast… from the heartlands to the saltwaters we had gathered here. But, those days were missed.
Some months ago I came on the idea of creating a near life-sized figure of my Teacher. This idea mutated through several intermediate steps as I

Akanneesha's Debut

discussed it with person of artistic persuasion until I met Alex Evans from far off Indiana. When she heard of my wish, she took it and began to run with it. I looked at

Alex n Alex Admiring Her Work

her work and was highly impressed by it, so I sent her ideas and we talked even more. She sketched and we talked more. We made changes and we celebrated successes.
On Tuesday, 27 September, 2011, Alex left Indiana bound for our gathering. With her rode Akanumba Akanneesha… Red Stripe… My Teacher. She had painted him in three sections, each approximately thirty-two inches high and up to forty-eight inches wide to yield a finished painting eight feet high by four feet in width at its widest point. Neither of had seen him in his entirety prior to our arrival at our gathering cabin. With the help of many, we held

Our Cabin

him up against the cabin wall where we, for the very first time watched him come alive in his completed form.
With misted eyes, I looked at Alex with eyes aweep and we embraced. Together we had created something larger than the combination of our individual selves. I held her tightly, her diminutive self holding me even more tightly as we felt out creation consume us and meld our souls. It was at that moment that she became my beloved Celtic Sister… where she will remain from today through perpetuity and into eternity.

The Conference

Upon arrival I realized that my preplanning was not to come to fruition. There was no way for me to tap into the internet to retrieve my illustrations I had worked so hard to prepare.

The Sign

Then, I suppose to accentuate that this was not to be, my laptop computer rolled over on its back with its little feet in the air, figuratively speaking. So, here I am on Thursday with no access to even my data files… A major address due in the first speaking slot after the opening remarks of the 2011 Honobia Bigfoot Conference and only the notes I have written for reference. “You paint your pictures with worlds anyway,” Arla stated…
I let that sink in far enough that I realized she was right… that in my writing I often did not

Abe Del Rio and Me

have the option of using pictures to illustrate a point and had to rely merely on the written word to convey that scene. Thus, I thought, could not the same be done by the spoken word? Immediately, I went back to my notes and determined that Friday’s presentation would probably be alright in such a scenario although Saturday’s presentation would not, as it needed the use of comparative photos to be effective in its showing.
Although my surface tension had eased, I still had concerns.. There were tensions being caused from outside by people who, for some reason or

The Conference Begins

another, wished the conference and its organizers ill will. Their physical threats were a matter of concern as well to some. I was unsure as I am usually unsure before a major address. I did not feel it required major conciliation so I ignored my discomfiture and enjoyed the evening.
Akanneesha, Red Stripe, was complete. I had used Thursday to attach the mounting hardware that would make him free-standing and he had enjoyed his day watching our

Akanneesha Under Cover

antics from his secure place in the kitchen area of our cabin. Often, I would catch my Celtic Sister just staring at him and I would move to her side, place an oversized arm around her diminutive waist just to help her in the observance of this magnificent painting. I could not believe just how wonderful he had come out. It was as if I was standing there looking at him in person!
Eventually, fatigue prevailed and my bed called. Because so many had joined us and the cold nights had curtailed sleeping out… especially for the ladies, floor space had become a precious commodity for sleepers. To do my part in alleviating the shortage of said space, I had offered the floor at the end of my bed to Alex… an offer she gratefully accepted. On this night we were both safely ensconced in

Alex With Akanneesha

Proud Parentsour respective beds. We had said our goodnights and had each drifted off into our own dream world.
At 3:30 am, I awoke to the feeling of a presence next to my bed. Initially, I thought it might nave been Alex enroute to or from the bathroom. As she is so completely polite, she does this by navigating her way without turning on the light. This usually resulted in at least a few bumps and thuds in the night, especially when I tried it, that were readily identifiable as to their source. This time, however there was no telltale thump or bang and I could hear the soft night sounds Alex made as she slept calmly in her bed. Instead, I felt my Teacher’s ambiance. I knew at once that my Red

Saturday Morning Audience

Striped Friend, or his representative, was beside my bed! Immediately, since I had been sleeping on my right side, I raised my left arm straight vertically. After a pause such that I might have counted to eight slowly, I felt it… I felt my hand being engulfed in his giant hands.
I am not a small person and I have hands commensurate with my body size so to find my hand being held as I might hold the hand of my two-year-old great granddaughter as startling to me

Checking In

to say the least. I gasped a small bit, I believe as I felt his grip tighten just infinitesimally and I relaxed… As I did so, a peaceful calm descended over me and I knew I would be ok on Friday. “Saturday,” he said quietly into my mind, “will be a challenge. Trust me and I will quicken your mind that you might say the things we need taught.”
At this point, I was devoid of the power to resist him. He is powerful and can be enervating. I felt him squeeze my hand slightly and I asked him if he would allow my sister to see him. “Not at this time,” he replied. “She is not prepared to know

Arla Drumming and Singing Our Invocation

us this way yet and it would frighten her fearfully to be awakened so. Please tell her we are pleased with the work she has done and she will be asked to do more. It is important that she be able to do so.”
I could not, nor did I argue with him. I merely reclaimed my hand as he released it, offered my profound thanks for his intervention and immediately dropped off to sleep. I didn’t get to see him go, but I was not concerned. I had not seen him arrive either so I guess we were even and I was sure that, since he had found his way in, he could find his own way out!
Friday went swimmingly well. We had arranged to have Akanneesha on stage but covered as the morning session began. As I began, I spoke of my history with the Primal People we call

Farlan Huff

Sasquatch. When I reached the point where I had described my Teacher and his role in my life, I asked my audience… about one hundred strong at this early morning juncture, if they would like to meet him. Of course, heads bounced up and down as they responded. I asked Alex Evans to join me on stage where I introduced her as the artist she is. Together, we unveiled him to an awestruck audience! The applause Akanneesha and Alex received was profound but the looks on the faces of those viewing his image was of the stuff from which legends are spawned. I watched with a kind of wry amusement as those assembled realized they were looking directly at the body representation so perfectly

Arla Speaking

rendered that had Akanneesha stood onstage in the flesh, these people would not have known who was whom… he was that well done.
My Red Striped friend stayed with us on stage for the remainder of the Friday session and all day Saturday. At every break, people took the opportunity to have themselves photographed with him. Questions were rampant and he was a total success in my assessment.

Thom Speaking

As my presentation proceeded I could, indeed, feel his push in my mind to lead me to ways around the lack of illustrations. It was to this end that, when I began to discuss Electro-Motive Force (EMF), I utilized the whole width of the room to describe the band width. By so doing, I was able to show the relationship between audio sound and visible light. We found where the broadcast frequencies lay… both AM and FM. By moving across the stage, I could point out the radar band as well as X-rays. Most importantly, we could see where the visible light

Troy Hudson

spectrum fell and then, by expanding just that portion of the entire EMF range, show how we and how animals see… and, possibly, even how Sasquatch sees his world.
We went on to describe how our Primal People mate, have children and even how they perform rituals. Amazingly, it seemed like we had but started when the timekeeper signaled that my tenure had grown short. It was not before, however, we talked a bit about the forces closing in on his world and the level of protection he needs from us to live successfully and happily. My session on Friday ended as it had

Introducing Robert Swain

begun… with a call for respect and adherence to the message for RESPECT for ourselves, RESPECT

Cartoonist Robert Swain

for others, RESPECT for the Primal People and Respect for our earth.
My time was followed by people of considerable worth. Friday’s Conference continued with presentations by Arla Willians, Robert Swain, the cartoonist and one of the funniest illustrators ever and a leading crypto linguist, Scott Nelson. Of these, I was able to partake of only a little. With the arrangement of the facility as it was wherein my table with my books and other items was

R. Scott Nelson, Cryptolinguist

outside the presentation hall, I was called out time after

Scott Nelson and David Paulides

time to attend to people wanting information. Since my purpose in attending was to dispense this information, I gladly attended these people. As much as I would have loved to be able to listen to the entire conference. This was, alas, not to be.
This said, circumstances permitted such that I was able to hear much of Scott Nelson’s presentation on Sasquatch language and phonetics. Scott has spent a great deal of time studying this phenomenon and explained the genesis of his interest. “My son came to me with a request for help in choosing a

All of Us

subject for a paper on one of his classes in school,” he explained. “When he expressed a specific interest in Sasquatch, we went to the web and to Google.” Scott went on to say that their search led them to Ron Morehead’s “Sierra Sounds” site. On listening to the recorded sounds of multiple Sasquatch done in 1972 and 1974 high in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains while Ron was there on a hunting trip Scott was very impressed.


Abe n Arla

“This is language!” Scott told his son on hearing the recordings. He explained that what he was hearing had all the earmarks and requirements of a spoken language.
Scott was calling on his thirty years of experience in making this call. He had retired from the U.S. Navy as a crypto linguist and now taught at a Military Academy in central

Connie G n Me

Missouri. He had spent these years studying language and cryptology prior to his discovery of this new and thrilling data. Although I did not get to hear all he had to say, what I heard was fascinating and inspired within me a desire to learn so much more.
Saturday began early with a wonderful session leading up to my most awaited presentation of the weekend… a recorded interview with Dr. Melba Ketchum of the “Sasquatch Genome Project”.

Time to Relax

of course, the presentation had barely begun and Tim Jones was asking his preliminary questions when I was again called out of the hall to answer questions as before. I was able to return just in time to David Paulides recap the interview and present data on the collection of the hundreds of DNA samples gathered.
During David’s talk and the question and answer

Alex MidnightWalker

session of he and Scott Nelson that followed, I was impressed to make changes to my Saturday afternoon dissertation. As Scott was telling the story of his trip with Ron Morehead into the mountains, I was told by my Teacher, Akanneesha, that my planned talk would not be appropriate so I began rewriting. Since I had about sold out everything I had brought with me, I was afforded time to now write while enjoying Scott’s story of his upside down horse and all the travails that befell them on their ill-fated trek. Somewhere in the midst of his presentation, all of southeast Oklahoma lost electrical power! Like the trouper

Back at the Cabins

he is, Scott continued and completed his delivery, leaving just one person to speak…
Now I knew why I had been urged to alter my data. But, with my Teacher by my side, figuratively, if not literally, I took the stage and began. My second presentation was more simple and more direct than my first on Friday had been.
We now talked about hoaxes and why people perpetrate them. The conversation went to

How Big Was It?

fakeries that had occurred and the purposes behind them. Next we talked of tracks and of track ways… of steps, strides and paces and what constitutes each. We talked about ways to identify fake prints and especially contrived track ways. Most importantly I explained the factor of Intermembral Index and why it is so important in identifying fakes and hoaxes.
Intermembral Index (IM) as taught by Dr. Jeff


Meldrum is a technique of comparing arm length to leg length and attaining a ratio of the two. I explained that in man, the ratio of arm length to the length of the leg times one hundred is Seventy-Two. In chimpanzees, this ratio is One Hundred and Eight and in gorillas it is One Hundred and Eighteen. The most important comparison for us this day was that of Sasquatch at Eighty-Four. With these data, any photo that purports to show a Sasquatch where the arms and the legs can be seen can be verified or disproved with a high degree of certainty.
We closed the day with a question and answer session featuring all the speakers and our beautiful Artist, Alex. Question were varied and came quickly and were uniformly well

David Paulides

thought out and well delivered. “Since we have never even found a body of these creatures, how can such data be determined,” came the question from the floor.
“No, sir,” David Paulides responded. “You have never found a body. That does not mean that a body has never been examined.”

Saying Goodbye

          It began on the drive back to our cabins. A feeling of impending gloom was present. Moods were light and joy

The Lower Cabin

rampant in our group as a greatly successful conference was now history. The Tahlina Chamber of Commerce representative in charge of the festival told us it was the most successful festival ever held by them… that conference attendance was the highest they’d ever known.
Dinner that Saturday evening was greatly celebrated. The Spirit Plate was delivered with reverence and an evening of fun began. Many of our core group had departed now to their varied destinations

Michael Johnson at Sunset

but some remained. By now, after days together, even those of us who had arrived knowing only one or none of the others had had time to bond. Special spirits came forth this night and our love forged a bond so tight that none would dare try to deny.
Talk lingered long that night as all were reluctant to say

Sleepin' In

good night… but good night eventually came. From a special, ritual healing of the lesions on my neuropathetic shins to raids on the refrigerator and jokes and teases among friends, the night advanced. People moved onto the night trails in the surrounding forest as they had every night, but this night to say a special goodbye to the locals who had spent their time interacting with us this special weekend until, finally, I had to retire to my bed. My roommate had chosen that time as well to make her retreat to her pallet on the floor… where


it all began again. We talked!
For hours that seemed like minutes, we shared our hearts. We are so similar, she and I. Each in our own way, we create. As such, we have very similar feelings and drives. Oh, yes, it’s not precisely exact… she paints with oils and brushes and I with thoughts and words but the result is the same… a work of love on a canvas of

The Haze Is On the Meadow

life! Is there really any measurable difference between us then? Are we not two equal in our vision? I think we found somewhere during that night that Alex Evans became my sister… my Celtic Sister. She created within my heart a special, warm place where I can forever go to feel her beside me. Are we lovers? No… certainly not in this life though perhaps in another. But we are in love! Make no mistake about that and doubt it not! The petite, beautiful and talented Lady from the north is loved by the giant from the West. It seems a bit like the “Beauty and the Beast” to me, but I am never one to deny fate.
It was well past three-thirty am before we finally said goodnight and one or the other of us fell

Anna n Josie's Camp

asleep before the remainder could restart our conversation as had occurred many times prior. Night was short for sure, but that made no difference as we knew it was all we had… and it was enough!
Sunday dawned cool with a bright silver haze on the meadow… a haze that told us today, something real, something worthwhile was ending. Breakfast, lively as it was, had an atmosphere of impending reluctance about it. It seemed as though even the


inanimate things that made up our morning repast knew that the idyll had passed and the time for separation was near. Conversation, though fun and alive, held an overtone of what was soon to be.
Breakfast went, packing was completed and plans were discussed, changed, agreed upon and finalized… I was to ride back to Tulsa with Cyndi and Cathy, two people I’d really come to love, on their way home. This worked out well since their route home to Kansas would take them through the city and this plan would free Arla from the rigor of having to drive those hours north, deliver me to Tulsa International and return the hours back south to her home. She would get Alex’s now disassembled painting of my Teacher to the UPS store for me and send him on his way west. I really wanted her to ship Alex to me as well in the manner she had offered prior, but could not ask.
Then, it was time… all was loaded. There were only we gathered who remained outside our

Goodbye to Heaven

many vehicles. The tents were but memories and the cabins were empty of all but fond reminiscences of five days of Heaven. The sun was near its apex when an unheard tone resonated in announcement of the hour of dispersal. Almost as one, we began our final good-byes.
While most of us were in a small group, there were a couple of individuals who had moved off alone… one of these, Josie, was someone I felt a special need to tell of my feelings I had gained for her. I moved in her direction as she turned to await me. As I approached her, our arms raised almost involuntarily and, at last, our hands grasped… and it was as if lightening had struck us! The knowledge was instant and we hugged tightly… words were said… and energy was shared… we held sway for only a few moments, but the effect was eternal. Tears were coursing down our cheeks as we separated, not knowing if we would ever meet again in this life, but knowing for certain that we had known each other before… and would again. With this level of emotion flowing we parted… and I moved off to the last person from whom I had to separate.
Alex had left the knot of people about the same time I had left to approach Josie and she

It's Over...

moved to her car to wait. One of the longest walks of my life was from where that red truck was parked, up the hill to where Alex was preparing to get into her car. As I neared her, she turned and we embraced… no words were needed… our hearts were as one and my Celtic Sister was welded into my psyche forever. We said words then… what they were is highly unimportant as it was the emotion that was important not the verbiage. We spent but a few minutes there in that emotion charged atmosphere when time on our dimension expired and we had to part. Walking back to Cyndi’s car and away from that beautiful Red-haired lady was a hard as anything I’ve ever had to do in my life, I do believe.
Indeed, I had arrived as a stranger… as much as anyone is ever a stranger to this gathering of warm, wonderful people, but I was leaving as family. It had happened. This dynamic group had taken in an orphan and made him a part of their hearts. I shall be forever grateful for this love and this loving time.
Our time was up… Honobia 2011 was complete… and five days in Heaven had ended. Thank God 2012 is only a year away.

Her Name Is Gretchen

April 24, 2011 by  

Her Name Is Gretchen


Thom Cantrall

Her name was Gretchen and she was destined to become one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever known.
I first met Gretchen in the summer of 1959 just after

r I turned sixteen.  I was caring for a horse that belonged toa friend of mine and she had approached this friend about riding his horse, not knowing it was at my place at the time.  He said it’d be okay with him, but she had to clear it with me.

On a rare Sunday off from work that summer, she came to me about her request.  She and my younger brother were in the same class at school, so she knew my name and knew of me, though she didn’t know me at all.
When next I saw her, after she returned the horse that day,

we were both in High School, I was a Junior, while she was a mere Freshman.  It was September and football was in the air.  I was out with an injury, so was not eligible to play.  Even though I had my license, I rode the bus to and from school, as we lived some fifteen or so miles from Sonoma, the town the school was located.  On the bus ride home this fateful Friday afternoon, I happened to be sitting in the same seat as her.  To this day, I’m not sure how that happened, but the bus was full, as it always was, and when I realized someone was sitting beside me, I realized it was Gretchen.  I attempted some small talk with her, being the urbane, suave, older man that I was.  I think it was she who really kept the conversation going.  Somewhere along the line, I asked her if she were going to the game tonight and she answered “No, I don’t have a way to get there and back.”
It must be mentioned there that there was NOTHING in this conversation that should be construed as boy/girl interest.  I was fiercely interested in a girl my own age... a foxy French Canadian who had transferred in the previous winter.  I was in this situation now, simply because I knew her and we were sentenced to the same bus ride together.  With this in mind, and the fact that it was common for country folk to share rides to town, I said,

“Hey, I’m going tonight, if you’d like, you can ride with me.”  I never once dreamed of it as anything but a ride to town and back.  (Guess I wasn’t quite as urbane and sophisticated as I thought at the time).
“I don’t know if my mother would let me,” she answered with a smile. “Could you call me later and I’ll ask if it’s ok.”
I picked her up at her home at 7 pm, still just planning on giving her a ride... I figured I would spend the evening with Donna.... at least watching her.

I hadn’t reckoned with Gretchen.  She never once left my side the whole evening.  We watched the game, of course, and had some snacks and we talked a good bit about many things that I’m sure were important at the time, but of which I have no recall today.  It was a pleasant evening even if it was nothing I had planned.  After the game, I delivered her back to her home and went on to mine and forgot the whole thing.

Now, I had an even bigger problem.  Donna had been there and I was never able to even say hello to her.

The following Monday, back on the bus, returning home from school... I’m not sure what happened that morning, whether

one or the other of us got a ride to school, or if I was already involved with some of my buddies when we reached her stop, but it was in the evening, on the ride home that it happened.  I, again, was on the bus and seated when she got on.  She came directly to my seat and asked if it was taken.  I smiled and said, no, it’s not, and made a motion to her to please have a seat.  We chatted idly for a few minutes as the bus passed through the miles of countryside and wine vineyards our route traversed on the way home.  All at once she shifted in the seat some, moving her books so her hand adjacent to me was free and saying “we may as well be comfortable,” and she took my hand in hers, holding it very tightly as she snuggled close to me.

You could have blown me away with a feather.  I had no idea she felt that way.  And she was a very pretty girl.  As her name might suggest, she was of German descent, very blonde and a bit gangly at that age.  She had a nice shape with real boobs... and she was nice. But what was I?  I was just a big ol’ gawky country boy.  I was 6'4" tall and weighed like one-hundred-eighty lbs… So skinny I had to run around in the shower to get wet.  I was not affluent and did not have a fancy car like most in my class at school.  You must remember this was the day of the “custom car” and in Northern California, customs were de’ rigeur... I used my mom’s 1950 Ford with the hood that was denying its black existence and showing red!
There was nothing to recommend me to a lady of obvious breeding… if questionable taste. She lived in a fine home, her father was an electrical contractor and her mother was a beautiful and sophisticated lady.  Now, if you ask me how much of this was in my mind sitting there on that school

bus that warm September day oh so many years ago, I’d have to say that none of it was.  The only thing in my conscious mind was the fire that was scorching my soul.  It was a fire being generated somewhere in her being and transmitted to me through that hand.  I looked down at it.  It was so pale and dainty there entwined with my big ol’ work toughened mitt.  It had bruises and scrapes on it from having been trod on by football cleats, from being on the business end of a claw hammer too many times and from the attacks by turkeys on the ranch I worked on weekends and some evenings..  It was not a pretty hand, but the tiny one in it was beautiful.
She taught me much, this blonde beauty.  She taught me that Thom could succeed on his own.  She taught me that it was possible for someone to like me for me... not for what I had or didn’t have.  She didn’t care that we were often relegated to just a drive on Saturday after work, or, perhaps, occasionally, a movie at the discount theater... If it was important to her, I never knew.  We fell in love, as young love goes.  We were totally dedicated to one another, we went everywhere together. We learned about life together.  And we experimented some with one another.  And we learned what being happy meant.  I truly believe this was the happiest period of my life.  My grades were extremely high.  If fact, they’d never be as high again until many years later when I entered college after nine years in the military.
I never touched her sexually, though there were times I

felt she wanted me to do so.  The first time I heard a woman breathe the breath of passion it was with her.  We were at the drive in and, as is most usual, we were watching the movie enough to describe it if asked, and were doing a LOT of kissing.  She was a wonderful kisser, I thought, though I learned more later, but I just loved to hold her and kiss her, to feel her body so close to mine.  I never even touched her breasts, though I wanted to so badly, but I didn’t ever want to do anything that would lessen me in her eyes, but this one night…  I’m not sure what happened… maybe it was just the ambiance… or the moon was especially bright, but all at once it was like she had lost some kind of control of her breathing… she laid down on the seat, her head in my lap and pulled me down to her to kiss her more and more… it was sooooo special.  I think if that happened today, more would ensue, but then, not sure what was happening, we did nothing more.  We just held one another and kissed one another.  Tongues not having yet

been invented, the kisses were not tongue laden, but were, nonetheless, quite soul driven.
At Christmas, we exchanged gifts, I don’t know, today, what they were, but I do
remember agonizing for some weeks over the “perfect” gift for her.  I do know they were perfect, especially in light of the fact that this was the first gift I ever received from someone other than family.  My birthday fell on July first and she gave me the most beautiful light grey Stetson you have ever seen in your life.  That hat cost more than my car.
On that day, my seventeenth birthday, my Mom handed me twenty dollars and Dad handed me the keys to the car and they told me to go get Gretchen and take her someplace nice.  (You could do that on twenty dollars then... for me, that was a half week’s pay) To that end, we went for a long drive.  To Mt. St. Helena and the trout hatchery there, where I paid for her to catch two really nice trout.  Then we were off to the ocean, where we walked in the sand and kissed in the open.  Right out there on the beach in front of everyone, we kissed.

We broke up that summer.  Why?  I’ve asked myself that question so many times over the years, and the only thing I can say is it was one of two things, or maybe a combination of the two things.  One: she was too compliant.  I really believe that if I had insisted, she would have had sex with me, if it was what I wanted.  She never voiced an opinion contrary to mine.  If I asked, it was always “we’ll do what you want, I’m happy with that.”  That is not my style.  I ask questions because I want answers.  I want input.  To this day, I cannot abide a yes man.  It does no good to agree when the facts are contrary.  Two: I was too young to be committed to one person. I needed to see what other people were like.  And I just loved her too much to hurt her... though I knew it would.
After I was in the US Navy, some years later, she wrote

me.  She thanked me for our time together, and, like me, regretted our break up… but, she realized, the timing was all wrong.  And she sent me her latest picture.  Oh my gawd, but she was the most beautiful lady I have ever seen, I believe!  She had grown into that gangly body and filled out and matured.  She was tall, almost six feet and looked like a goddess.  I could not believe the beauty of the girl.  That was in 1963, I believe and I have seen or heard nothing from her since.  But I think of her often.  And I remember that taking of the hand on the bus that September Day in another era… in another time.
Gretchen, I love you still... and I always will...

H.E.R.O. Report

February 14, 2011 by  

In all the years I’ve been associated with Sasquatch Research, it never occurred to me look at from THEIR point of view… My friend Beth sent this to me and I felt is was far too good to not share….

H.   E.  R.  O.

Human Evaluation and Research Organization

Interim report of Expedition 041206.

When the Sasquatch Intelligence Agency (SIA) learned that the ‘Happy Wanderer Hiking Club’ of (deleted) had planned a three-day outing to a primitive campground in area known to us as Honeybear Mountain, the decision was taken by the Investigation Committee to send a team to cover the event. The general location is in the southeastern United States (Exact location undisclosed due to the potential for ongoing investigation). Our team #3 was given the assignment.

Team Members:


Harold (me)







All team members are experienced and highly trained researchers/investigators.


At times, we find it to our advantage to make our presence known to humans without showing ourselves. For this we rely on ‘The Stench’. We obtain this from Simply Nauseous InFusions (SNIF), Ltd., who make the product available in handy aerosol cans and in a number of custom blends. Our choices for this exercise were:

Females: Cass and Ellie chose “FEMME” (damp forest, day-old garbage and honeysuckle)


Herschel, Nigel and I selected “MILD MALE” (wet dog and musk with a hint of rotten cabbage)

Morris, our extrovert, opted for “BARF!” (skunk, ammonia, rotten eggs, open sewer, rotten meat,

rotten fish and gorgonzola)

All investigators also carried an aerosol can of SNIF’s tried and true “Narcissus Pheromone”.  One whiff of this odorless compound gives humans an uncontrollable feeling of ‘being watched’, causes the hair on the back of their necks to stand up and makes ‘goose bumps’ rise on their arms.


As we have been observing humans for centuries, we believe we know most of what can be learned about them. However, we continue the program to keep pace with any improvements in their equipment and also to document any previously unobserved human characteristics. It should be noted that, although their stress levels are purposely elevated from time to time, particular care is taken on our part that no injury comes to any human during these exercises.

All investigators were cautioned that they were not, under any circumstance, to allow themselves to be photographed by humans as anything more than amorphous blobs in the wilderness. It is realized that some of our kind think it would be to our advantage to allow ourselves to appear crisply and clearly in photographs. However, we are staying with our principles. This policy will remain in effect until humans relent and guarantee us fair and reasonable compensation for our time and effort in posing for them.


It was known that the humans would begin to arrive mid-morning on Friday. In order to re-familiarize ourselves with the terrain and trail/ campground layout and condition, we arrived Wednesday afternoon. The area was in excellent condition so we were able to complete our preparations by Thursday afternoon leaving sufficient time for an evening of fellowship. Beginning with a rousing sing-along, we then spent the rest of the evening telling human stories and jokes.

“Why did the human dash across both lanes of the busy Interstate?”

“Because he saw Morris on his side of the road!”

(Morris laughed so hard at this that he choked and a piece of the rattlesnake he was eating came right out of his nose!)

Before dawn the next morning (Friday), Morris was dispatched to the paved road to obtain some specimens of suitably-aged roadkill for use in an experiment we wished to perform. He found several excellent samples. In spite of eating  most of them on his way back to our position, a sufficient amount remained for our purposes.

At 0930 we gathered to coordinate our first evolution.

The Arrival

At 1030 A.M. the club members began arriving. We observed carefully in order to evaluate their camp making and general forest skills.


Fifty percent displayed average abilities

Fifteen percent received above average marks.

Ten percent were deemed to be superior.

Twenty-five percent should not have been allowed in the forest unaccompanied.


These data conform closely to previous observations. Nothing new was learned from this exercise

The next exercise was to evaluate the human powers of observation and determine gastronomical preferences. After the campers had finished their evening meal and were gathered for informal social activities, Herschel, quietly and unobserved, made his way to the edge of the camp clearing. He tossed a portion of Morris’s properly-aged roadkill into the clearing, made a couple of bird calls and silently withdrew. Immediately, three campers (obviously avid birders) wandered to the edge of the clearing to try and determine why a Tennessee warbler was up and singing at 10:30 in the evening. They located our bait and soon all campers were gathered to examine the properly-aged roadkill.


Ten instances of audible gagging.

Seven cases of reflux.

Eighteen ‘tossed cookies’. (Samples were carefully gathered and were submitted for analysis.)


These data closely conform to previous observations. Nothing new was learned. Humans possess extremely weak stomachs.

We spent the remainder of the evening carefully observing the camp in order to prepare for tomorrow’s first exercise. Finally, our well-honed powers of observation and hearing paid off as Ellie and Nigel discovered a group of six males who were planning a morning hike to the top of the mountain via a remote trail. We quickly crafted our detailed plan of observation.

The First Encounter:

Our plan (like all of our plans) was simple, yet masterful. Cassie and Nigel would remain to observe the campsite while Ellie, Herschel, Morris and I would accompany the hikers.  When the humans were an eighth of a mile from the camp, Ellie and Herschel began to ‘pace’ them. (This is a maneuver in which we accompany the hikers – in this case, Ellie on the left, Herschel on the right – and remain unobserved but make no effort to conceal the sound of our footfalls. When the hikers stop, we also stop, after being careful to take one additional step to ensure that the humans are aware of our presence.) After three quarters of a mile of ‘pacing’ Herschel and Ellie reverted to the concealed/silent mode to allow the hikers to relax.  Meanwhile, at a point on the trail a mile and a quarter from the campsite, I took position behind a large poplar tree. When the hikers approached to within ten paces of my position, Ellie signaled by bird call (blue jay). I then went into a crouch, stepped into the trail, turned to face the oncoming humans, rose to my full height of nine feet and eleven inches, threw my arms into the air, did a nifty little dance step and said, “WHASSUP, DUDES?!” (Now, I realize that, due to the difference in out languages, this may have sounded like a growl. In fact, due to the enthusiasm with which I spoke, it could have been mistaken for a ROAR! But I can’t be blamed for that.)


For an instant, time seemed to freeze as the hikers absorbed what had transpired before them. Then action began apace.  First, there were six, near-simultaneous human scat samples provided. (Unfortunately, since all humans were wearing jeans, none of these were collectable.) Then, in a shower of discarded equipment, the hikers whirled and started back towards the campsite as fast as their pathetic little underdeveloped legs would take them. Herschel gave chase but had to pull up after three strides to keep from getting ahead of them.

Meanwhile, Morris, Ellie and I took inventory of the discarded equipment:

Six water bottles

Two camcorders

Three still cameras (one film, two digital)

Five pair of binoculars

Six backpacks

Five hiking boots

Three GPS receivers

Since very little of this equipment was of any use to us, we simply noted the location of each item, the brand names and condition and left them where they lay. There were, however three exceptions:

1. Morris ate one of the hiking boots. Although it had a pleasant aroma of properly-aged roadkill, he found it to be somewhat tough and not entirely to his liking.

2. Ellie thought that the knapsacks could be modified for useful service as handbags or fanny-packs, so she retained two of those.

3. We ALL enjoyed the glazed donuts and chocolate bars. (At least those we could keep from Morris.)

After our former hikers reached the campsite, they breathlessly told their story. Their fellow campers quickly convinced them that their eyes were playing tricks and all that they had seen was an opossum. (After hearing this, all the researchers began to call me ‘Haropossum’. I became so angry, I didn’t speak to anyone for twenty minutes!)


These data closely conform to previous observations. Nothing new was learned. Human are the SLOWEST vertebrates in the forest.

The next encounter was, as happens from time-to-time, an unplanned and spontaneous experience. Yet it was an encounter which provided more information than we have been able to gather in quite a while.

The Second encounter:

At dusk on Saturday, a female (we later learned her name was Alicia) left her campsite to answer a ‘call of nature’. Cass was in her sector at the time and accompanied her (unobserved/silent mode) on her trek. When Alicia found just the right spot and assumed the position to ‘take care of business’, Cass stepped into the open in front of her, gave her a friendly smile and uttered a low, “Whoop!” (our language for, Gotcha!”)


ALL investigators were extremely impressed by Alicia’s speed and agility. According to Herschel (Expedition Statistician), she covered the 109 yards back to her campsite in ten seconds flat! (This is even MORE impressive considering the fact that Alicia accomplished this with her jeans around her ankles!) At one point, we looked on in horror as she was headed directly for a large blackberry patch. If she encountered those vicious briars at the speed she was moving, she would seriously injure herself! As it happened, we needn’t have worried. NONE of us had EVER seen a human – or any animal for that matter – run across the TOPS of blackberry bushes!

Upon reaching her campsite, Alicia breathlessly related her story. Her fellow campers quickly convinced her that her eyes were playing tricks and all she had seen was a raccoon. (All researchers began referring to Cass as ‘Cassaraccoon’, whereupon she became so angry she wouldn’t speak to anyone for twenty minutes!)

An excellent scat sample was carefully collected and submitted for analysis.


After close examination of all data, we learned that Alicia’s demonstrated speed was only four percent slower than the legendary Simon (‘the Slug’) Snailfoot, the slowest sasquatch known to history. Congratulations, Alicia girl! You are now, officially, the fastest human we have ever clocked and a part of sasquatch history!

It is hereby strongly recommended that we closely study Alicia’s technique for running across the tops of briar patches. If we can master this maneuver, it could well be used to our advantage in the future.

After this encounter, we retired to the deep forest to allow the humans to enjoy their supper while we planned our next exercise, ‘The Serenade’.

The Serenade:

This event, also known irreverently as ‘The Whistle in the Thistle’ is employed as an after-dinner entertainment to reward our human subjects as much as anything else. Herschel and Ellie would observe the campsite while Nigel and Cassie would perform a serenade of whistles, whoops and howls. Morris provided percussion accompaniment with tree and rock knocking. Meanwhile I ran noisily through the nearby forest breaking large limbs and small trees. (This is NOT my favorite part of any expedition as I invariably get pine sap all over me and my hands are sticky and yukky for a week!)


Shock                       100 percent

Awe                         100 percent


These data are consistent with previous results. Nothing new learned.

After our performance, we again retired deeper into the forest to compare notes and discuss our next move. It was unanimously decided that nothing further of any significance would be learned from this group and it was decided to proceed with ‘Operation Termination’.

Operation Termination:

After our concert, we allowed our humans to relax and retire to their tents after a full day of activities. Then, at 1:30 a.m., all six of us entered the camp, making no effort to conceal our footsteps, and walked among and around the tents, occasionally grunting, snorting and picking up and noisily discarding various items of camping equipment. (It never ceases to amaze us that, during this exercise, no human is anxious to leave his tent and join us.) After twenty minutes, we quietly retired to the forest and took our positions to observe the humans’ camp-breaking techniques.


The last club member entered his vehicle in forty-five seconds. The last vehicle squealed onto the paved road in four minutes.  (Not a bad time for transiting three miles of rutted logging track!) We left the tents and other equipment where they were. Morris took care of all remaining comestibles.


Although their departure was somewhat more expeditious than the average, our observation did not significantly differ from previous expeditions.


Some things, thanks mainly to Alicia, were learned from this expedition. However, we have studied humans for so long that there is, frankly, little left to learn about them.

We hope to have the laboratory results back within two weeks and have the final report out within a month.

Pictures and maps will be made available as Nigel finishes drawing them.

NO HUMAN WAS INJURED DURING THE COURSE OF THIS EXPEDITION. (However, there was minor to moderate suspension damage to nine vehicles during the exit phase and six mufflers were lost.) (We are still not certain as to what use the humans make of ‘mufflers’ but we find that, when they are banged together or hit with sticks, they make sounds that we find pleasing.)

/s/  Harold Harefoot

Chief Investigator and Lead Scientist

Making Salmon

January 17, 2011 by  

Snow Pass Coho

Thom Cantrall

Making Salmon


Thom Cantrall

“We expect a return this year of about a hundred and eighty thousand Coho Salmon this year,” Randy, manager of the fish facility

Neck Lake... approximately 750 Acres

at the head of Neck Lake

Rearing/Feeding pen on Neck Lake

outlet stream, stated matter-of-factly.  “In the next four or five years, we expect to have a return exceeding two hundred thousand Coho and eighty to ninety thousand of the smaller Sockeye Salmon returning.  That’s not a bad return for a stream that had no fish returning prior to our setting up here in the mid 1990’s.”

Our group was taking time from fishing for our daily limits of these returning Cohos to tour the fish handling facility built here by the Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (SSRAA or Sarah).  This facility is

The Falls at the outlet of Neck Lake... a barrier to salmon runs

located on the three quarter mile long creek that is the outlet for the nine hundred fifty acre Neck Lake.  The outlet is a waterfall of sufficient height to block access upstream to the returning fish, so there was no way they could gain the spawning gravels upstream of the lake.  In effect, this was a Salmon desert and no fish came up the stream.  In an effort to change this and to improve the stocks of wild fish returning to this area, Sarah began a project in

Neck Lake Creek at low tide

1996 that was to have a profound and lasting effect of the area fishery.

The organization began by building a complex of feeding and rearing ponds in Neck Lake itself then stocking them with approximately 1.6 Million Coho fingerlings.  These

Neck Creek Lake on Incoming Tide

young fish were reared within the pens in the lake for an extra year before their release with the thought that extra size might raise the survival rate among the fish in their four years journey to maturity and return to the Neck Lake Outlet Creek.  The fingerlings were shipped here from their hatchery at Barnett Inlet on neighboring Etolin Island.  The usual expected

Neck Lake Creek at Flood Tide

return for native fish over the span from hatching to return is normally under four percent.  The rest of them falling prey to any one of the myriad perils they face from larger fish in their spawning stream to the foraging predators of the open sea to the nets, hooks, lures and snares of the people who live along their homeward bound route.  On average, of every one million eggs successfully hatched, it is expected that

Lake Neck Creek with a furry fisherman in attendance

less than forty thousand adult fish will return to spawn again.  It is easy seen then, that a projected return such as is being witnessed at this facility of nearly twelve percent speaks well for the management of the young smolts.  The vertical waterfall that is fatal to returning salmon presents no such impediment to the twenty five to thirty gram fingerling salmon… they simply fly down the falls on a flood of high water!

From the very upper end of the small outlet creek, nearly at the base of the waterfall from the lake, a fish ladder allows the returning

Neck Lake Creek Fish Ladder

salmon to make their way from the creek to the processing facility built there.  At the head of the ladder is a gated holding pond into which some four thousand two hundred fish are held which constitutes a full day’s run.  In this pond, the carbon dioxide level is raised at the west end where the fish are removed for

Neck Lake Holding Pond

processing, causing the fish to become anesthetized while still alive and swimming.  The facility uses a hydraulic lift to raise the fish to a working height and workers take the salmon individually and quickly dispatch them and bleed them before immediately placing them in slush ice in a large tote bin.  The daily run is calculated to fill the number of totes required to load the forty foot semi trailer that will be used to transport the iced fish to Ketchikan.

Packing the haul

Once in Ketchikan, the fish are rapidly processed and boxed in the special fish containers developed for the express purpose of getting the fish to market in the best possible condition.  After mere hours in the Ketchikan facility, the bulk of the fresh fish are loaded onto a southbound Alaska Ferry with a Seattle port of call on its itinerary.  Within thirty six to forty eight hours of swimming

Notice the fish in the Ice Filled Totes

freely, these fish are in the markets of Seattle and Portland, OR with the name “Snow Pass Coho”.  This is a truly remarkable feat when one considers all the potential problems inherent to such an operation.

The facility at Neck Lake in a single season will process and ship approximately fifty thousand Coho Salmon to the fresh markets of the Pacific Northwest… the remaining one

Overview of the facility

hundred and fifty thousand returning fish are harvested by commercial fishermen in the Northern Prince of Wales Island area, sport fishermen like our group, Indian subsistence fishermen and so forth down to the bears and eagles who fished with us daily on this little inlet stream.  And… all of this is done on a three quarter mile long inlet and stream that, before 1998 had

The closest thing you'll find to McD's on the WHOLE Island... let alone Whale Pass

NEVER seen a returning salmon. Remarkable!

For an overview of the SSRAA, here is their website…

Fish ON! Neck Lake Creek


Indians fishing for Salmon in the traditional way

Traveling North

January 15, 2011 by  

Traveling North


Thom Cantrall

In the spring of 2004 I was invited to use a friend’s cabin on Neck Lake Outlet, Whale Pass, Prince of Wales Island, Alaska.  I knew the reputation this area had for serving up wonderful portions of large

Dan's Cabin and our Home for 9 days in July 2004

fish and was anxious to partake.  I undertook to research the resources of area and finally determined that late July would be the best possible time for the trek.  Plans were made, purchases made, reservations set and in the deep dark of the night that late July day, a van with five, tired, hungry and increasing short tempered fishermen finally found the right driveway to the right gate to the right cabin and it was with great relief that we watched the lights brighten the night as the master switch was thrown to provide power to our new temporary home.

Canadian Indians dip net fishing for huge salmon on a river in the Cassiars

All of us were entirely exhausted following our forty-five hour ordeal from my southeast Washington home. We had driven twenty-one hours to Prince Rupert, BC, Canada on leg one, arriving there about

The Boat Basin at Prince Rupert, BC, Canada

Eleven Thirty pm.  We had cut several hours off the estimated time and that, coupled with the safety margin we’d left ourselves in meeting out Six-Thirty am appointment with the Alaska Ferry, Matanuska in this most northern British Columbia Pacific seaport meant that we had some seven hours wait.  We decided to do it right and rented a motel room and got a decent nap before arising at Five am and queuing up for our anticipated loading.

The six hour ride from Prince Rupert, BC to Ketchikan, AK was,

Pete and Jennifer... she was traveling alone to POW and kind of threw in with us for friendship and protection

without a doubt one of the most pleasant interludes I have ever had while traveling.  Breakfast was served in the galley and the food was hot, delicious, copious and quite inexpensive considering just where we were when eating it.  I paid no more for my generous breakfast than I would have paid in a decent restaurant in my hometown.

The time after breakfast was spent walking the outside decks enjoying the absolute splendor of Southeast Alaska or sitting in the most comfortable lounges inside glassed walls using binoculars to watch the whales cavort as they fed

On Deck on the Matanuska... notice the proximity of the shoreline here

in the icy waters.  Seals and sea lions were ubiquitous.  But my greatest pleasure came from scanning the often very close shorelines watching closely for bears on the beach and deer and other wildlife.  Eagles were everywhere.  Virtually every old snag would have from one to twenty Bald Eagles perched and watching, waiting for a falling tide in a shoreline inlet to expose the salmon returning to spawn there.

Soon, we were debarking at the port of Ketchikan.  It was a trip of but  six hours

Debarking from the Ferry Matanuska in Ketchikan

from Prince Rupert to Ketchikan and this put us into town with a bit of time on our hands before our reserved loading on board the Inter Island Ferry bound for Hollis on Prince of Wales Island.  We used this time to purchase our fishing licenses then to shop for our groceries.  We had opted for the seven day permit as the cost was very affordable and we added such other small pieces of tackle as caught our eye and we deemed ESSENTIAL at this juncture!

The 7 Seas Mariner Cruise Ship in Ketchikan Harbor

The trip through the Ketchikan Safeway store was interesting, to say the least… canned goods, prepared foods and the like were comparably priced with similar items in the lower forty-eight but commodities were not!  Fresh vegetables were so high I thought we were buying those that had been plated in gold!  Milk was very expensive, approximately two and a half times what I had paid for it

The harbor at Ketchikan

two days before in Washington.  Still, we knew this was going to be the case and had planned for it.  We got that which we thought we’d need for the week and went through checkout.  We did not skimp on ourselves.  We bought plenty and well.  As we wheeled our three carts to the checkout

Ketchikan Air Taxi close overhead

line, I was very afraid we’d melt down the cash register before we were done, but, in actuality, the total was around three hundred and fifty dollars or about seventy dollars per man for a week.  That, I did not feel, was all that bad for the time and place.  Finding room for it in our already overstuffed van was, however, not quite such an easy task.

Three Thirty pm found us safely aboard the Alaska InterIsland Ferry,

Some Olde Farte I found Eyeballing the Beach

“Prince of Wales” and on out way west to Hollis.  It was a three hour trip so we settled back and took our time.  We visited the galley again and had some hearty, rib-sticking chili and beans.  Again we toured and visited around.  The islands through which we passed were even closer aboard than they had been on our first ferry leg to Ketchikan.  Often we were able to see wildlife on the beaches and the time passed quickly.  It seems but minutes before we were departing up the ramp on the Island, our noses now pointing the ninety miles or so north to Whale Passage and our waiting cabin.

To say that last leg was easy would have been completely untrue.  We were five tired, cranky men who had been cooped up too close together for much too long who were no trying to navigate our way through unknown territories on gravel roads that were little more than passable, often on a trek that would see us pass five hours in covering a mere ninety miles plus two slight additions for wrong turns in the black of night.

It was with great good feelings that we greeted the light cast by the bulbs around this Edenesque Cabin in the remote corners of an Island at the back end of beyond.  Little did we know what the week would hold when we again switched those lights off to sleep… perchance to dream… of, no doubt, large salmon jumping on the ends of long lines… and such it was to be…

The Odyssey

January 13, 2011 by  

The Odyssey


Thom Cantrall

The sun had made its appearance, but was not high in the sky.  The warm air of early morning was promising another hot July day in Northern California as my family dropped me off at the north end of Santa Rosa on an on-ramp to Highway 101.  It was one of those sad/sweet moments as I kissed my young sweetheart goodbye and set out on yet another adventure in a young life of many such adventures.

It was 1962 and I had yet to have seen my first anniversary of service in the U.S. Navy, but had just completed the Missile Technician Class A School in Dam Neck, VA, adjacent to Virginia Beach, VA… between there and the Great Dismal Swamp, actually.  This was a point brought home every time a Water Moccasin would slither its way into the hallways of the class buildings adjoining the this great body of brackish water and weeds.

I was just finishing a short leave period at home and it was time to return to duty.  In my seabag, I had orders to the U.S. Naval

USS Gato Class Fleet Submarine

Submarine Warfare Training Center, Sub-School for short, in Groton, CT.  I was expected to be on board by the third of August, so had plenty of time to make this trip.

Before we left A School, four of us had made a plan for returning to Connecticut.  I would make my way from my family’s home in California to Ephrata, WA, about eighty miles east, southeast of Wenatchee, WA which is about two hundred miles east of Seattle.  At Ephrata I was to meet Denny “Foghorn Leghorn” Deycous.  Foghorn and I would be driven from his home there to Spokane, WA where, at a particular gas station at the junction of U.S. Highway 395 and what would soon become Interstate 90, we would meet Mike Dodge who owned the car we would drive to Monona, IA.  At Monona we would add Jim “Jake” Jacobson to our troupe and then on to New London, CT.

My plan for getting from Santa Rosa to Ephrata called for me to hitchhike in uniform up Highway 101 to just north of Crescent City, CA, where I would turn inland on U.S.

Giant Redwoods on Hwy 101

Highway 199 to Grants Pass, OR.  At Grants Pass I would turn north on U.S. Highway 99.  At some point, probably at the Columbia River, I planned to go east to U.S. Highway 97, a route I had once traveled north to Ellensburg, WA.  From there I would go on east to Moses Lake, WA and then north on State Highway 17 to Ephrata.

Avenue of the Giants, Hwy 101

I had no idea how long this trip would take, but I calculated it to be something over eleven hundred miles, almost all on two-lane highways, so I figured a minimum of twenty-nine hours and a maximum of thirty-five hours.  Since we had to meet the Truck (Mike Dodge) at seven pm, I planned for the worst and left Santa Rosa at eight thirty am after a leisurely breakfast and a sad, slow ride to the freeway.  It must be remembered that this was 1962 and the Interstate Highway system as we know it today did not exist.

The trip had a rather inauspicious beginning as it took me several minutes of standing with my thumb out before someone stopped to offer me a lift.  As it turned out, that was the longest wait I had in any one place in the whole trip.  Many rides were short, just a few miles up the highway to where my hosts had to turn off to their own destinations, happy in their minds that they had done their bit to help a serviceman on his way.  The drive up the coast highway was, as always, beautiful with the roadway winding through the great stands of the coastal Redwoods, Sequoia Sempervirons.

Hwy 101 in Humboldt Co., CA

This area is now known as “The Avenue of the Giants”, but then was just “the highway”.

Many of my hosts were interesting and they varied greatly.  One of my favorites in this stretch was a Canadian family who were returning to their home in British Columbia after a trip, a “holiday” they said, to Southern California.  The father was generous in his offering of a Canadian brand of cigarette.  The whole family was very pleasant and fun to be with and I rode with them for more than a hundred miles until the highway

The Beach at Orick, CA on the North Coast

came west to meet the ocean north of Arcata, CA.  Here, my family took leave as they wanted to spend time playing on the beach there.  As happened often on this trip, as I was unloading my seabag and thanking my hosts, another vehicle pulled in behind us to help me load my bag into the rear of their truck.

I was only a few miles out of Orick, CA here and while it was not the longest ride I would enjoy on this trip, it was, doubtless, the quickest I would encounter!  As it turned out,

Orick, CA

two young men who had picked me up had been working on the truck and this short trip was the test run.  We fairly flew those few miles into town at speeds exceeding eighty miles per hour.  I will admit that I was not sad to say goodbye to this pair and move on.

An older couple picked me up coming out of Orick.  It was so sweet how they told me about their nephew, or such who was in the Navy too, did I happen to know him?  He was on a ship in San Diego, she thought, but it could be Texas, too, she wasn’t sure.  I just smiled and told her that with over two-million men in the Navy at that time, the chances were small that

Leaving the 101 and Starting the 199… the longest walk of my trip occurred here

I’d know him, especially since I had been doing time at a small school command in the backside of nowhere.  She had a picnic basket full of very delicious sandwiches and there was iced Pepsi-Cola in the cooler, so the ride north to Crescent City was pleasant and beautiful.  We parted at the junction of Highway 199 as they were continuing on north along the Oregon Coast.

Unfortunately, with the junction being as it was, I had to walk almost a half mile to get into a position where I could safely await a ride where my potential host could get safely off the highway to load me.  This was the longest walk I had for the entire trip.

After the short wait in the late afternoon sun, an ancient pick-up loaded down with firewood rumbled in to load me up.  The occupants were a couple less than thirty years old.  The driver was one of those coarse-haired, burley, broad-shouldered, tobacco-chewing types wearing a red and black checked logger’s shirt.  This was one no one w

The tiny town of Gasquet, CA

ould ever want to challenge in any endeavor if encountered in the local tavern.  Her boyfriend didn’t appear to be any kind of soft touch himself!  While my ride with this couple was short, only the fifteen or twenty miles to Gasquet, (pronounced Gas-key) CA, it was most interesting with most animated hosts.  They, like most of my hosts who were leaving me at a town, drove me through the town to a convenient spot on the outside edge, so that I would have the advantage of any traffic leaving town.

This couple was barely back on the pavement when a late-model sedan pulled over and a middle-aged man eyed me suspiciously.  “I guess you’re ok,” he stated.  “One can’t be too careful today, you know?”

“Would you like to see my Military ID, Sir?” I asked.

“No, I’m sure you’re ok,” he replied.  “Climb in.”

As we made our way north and east, we chatted a bit and he then asked if I could drive.  It seems he had taken advantage of a sales trip to the coastal

Hiway 199 near the CA/OR border

area to enjoy a day of Salmon fishing.  Rising early for that highly successful outing would not have been the problem it turned out to be had not a bottomless bottle of Scotch Whisky assailed his person the night before.  The resultant short night and busy day had left him in a quandary as to how he was going to get back to his Medford, OR home without spending a second night on the road.  As it turned out, I was his answer to a prayer of sorts and I was able to let him sleep the few hours drive into Grants Pass.  On arrival, he directed me to drive to the north end of town to the junction of Highway 99N even though it was a b

Grants Pass 1960

it out of his way to do so.  While I was unloading and he was returning to his place under the steering wheel, a very nice, very clean 1956 Chevy pulled in under the lights of the well-lit junction, evening having over taken us on this last leg of the journey.

Although I had not noticed on the drive, it was now late enough for the lights to be a necessity.  As we set off again to the north, the young man driving introduced himself to me as a fellow sailor… on leave from his San Diego, CA duty station and was en route to Seattle for a couple weeks of recreation at the home of his girl friend’s family.

At this late date, I do not recall his name, although James seems to creep into my mind.  What I do recall is a feeling of relief that I now had a ride through most of the night until I reached that far point where I’d have to make my eastward jog to pick up Highway 97.

We stopped soon for dinner at one of the many roadside diners that offered either the best or the worst food to be had.  In those days before Denny’s, Shari’s or even Burger King, Mc Donald’s or KFC, the roadside restaurant was an adventure in eating all on its own!  Our

North Fork of the Umpqua River near Myrtle Creek, OR on Hwy 99N

luck was good, however, and we enjoyed a pleasant meal in a relaxed atmosphere with an attractive and attentive waitress tending our every need.  It was during this interlude that I received two startling revelations.  First, my host mentioned casually that it was not exactly Seattle he was heading for, but some place called Wenatchee.  He stated that he wasn’t sure where it was, but knew he had to go through Seattle to get there.  I didn’t know exactly where it was either, at that time, but our totally prepared waitress handed me a Washington state road map.  It was the work of but a moment to find the elusive town and to discover it was but eighty miles from my destination in Ephrata.

“Wow,” I exclaimed, “I’m with you all the way, if that’s ok with you!”

“It’s more than ok, it’s great,” h

The Hwy 99N Columbia River Bridge crossing from Oregon into Washington as it was in July, 1962

e replied.  “If you can spell me a bit driving, we can drive right through the night and be there in the early morning!”

It was like an anvil had been lifted off my shoulders to not have to worry about how I was going to transit up the Columbia River Gorge in the middle of the night.  I knew I could do it, but didn’t know precisely how at that time.  God really does look out for small children and sailors on land.

My second surprise came moments later when I went to pay my bill and was told that the older couple who had just left had paid my bill.  I could have been blown away with a feather, I was so astonished.  When I asked, she admitted that, no, they had not left her a tip on my dinner, but that was alright, because she was happy to do all she had done.  That she was so willing enabled me to be more than generous in that capacity, making sure that this princess among thieves was well rewarded for her diligent and friendly service she’d provided us.

1962 Seattle World’s Fair

On through the night we drove, first me, then him until about four am when we found were in downtown Seattle, driving around the site of the current World’s Fair, marveling at the beauty of the spacious grace and the majesty of the Space Needle, the identifying signature of Seattle to this day.

Daylight had not yet made its appearance as we were wending our way up the mountain highway that would become Interstate 90, but at this time was merely a trail through the trees trying to reach the heights of Snoqualmie Pass.  About half way between the town of North B

The restaurant and gas station at Snoqualmie Summit as it appears today…

end and the Cascade Mountains summit at Snoqualmie, our car suddenly coughed once and died.  We drifted to the side of road, both of us at a loss as to what to do next.  We suspected a fuel problem, but the late hours of a dark, moonless night was not the time to be trying to troubleshoot any problem.  As we were contemplating what to do next, a late model pick-up pulled in.

“Obviously,” the driver stated, “nothing much can be done here, so why don’t I just tow you on up to the pass? There is gas station there and a restaurant.  I know the fellow who runs it and he is a good mechanic and an overall good guy… though, if you say I said that about him, I’d have to deny it!”

The world was just turning from black to gray as we watched through the windows of the café at the peak of Snoqualmie Pass while enjoying a generously proportioned breakfast.  We were waiting out the hour until the adjoining garage/gas station opened for business.  The entire staff assured us that the gentleman who operated the place was diligent in opening on time, so he would be in at precisely six thirty am.

“You’re right,” the mechanic said.  “The fuel pump died on you.  I can get you one out of North Bend when he opens at eight… will that do?”

“I suppose it’ll have to do,” my host said.  “What are you going to do, Thom?” he asked of me.  “You can wait it out with me, or go on ahead, whatever works better for you.”

“Just a minute,” the mechanic interjected, “are you two traveling together?”  When we indicated we were, he continued, “Well, for the good of the Navy, he can open early.”  A phone call later and the arrangements had been made for him to pick up the new fuel pump in North Bend at seven fifteen am.

The final out

Welcome to Wenatchee

come was that we left Snoqualmie Summit at eight thirty am with the new pump installed and purring along nicely.   Remarkably, the mechanic charged us only for the pump.  He charged no labor and nothing for having driven the twenty-five or so miles each way to pick up the part.  We were beside ourselves with joy for the treatment we received at this remarkable establishment.  I have driven by that restaurant and station many times over the past forty-five years and even today, a warm feeling fills my heart as I remember this very special moment in my life so many years ago.

By ten am, I was in East Wenatchee, unloading my seabag and contemplating my chances of getting a ride before getting a ticket for hitchhiking as it was not permitted at that time in the state of Washington, as my cousin found out the hard way a couple of years before when he was returning to California from Seattle.   As it turned out one more time, I need not to have worried as there was a car waiting for me even as I completed my exit and good-byes.  An Air Force sergeant en route to work gave me a ride for the full eighty miles to the park in the center of downtown Ephrata.  It was approximately eleven thirty am when I called

Bell Hotel, Ephrata, WA

Foghorn to let him know I was in town.  I had hitch-hiked one thousand forty miles in just under twenty-seven hours.

I spent the next few hours visiting with Denny’s family and taking a nap until his brother suggested it was time and we drove the two hours on into Spokane.  By seven pm we had met the Truck and the three of us were heading east into the fading lig

Hwy 395 Junction in Spokane, WA

ht with our next scheduled stop being in Monona, IA to meet our last pilgrim.

Chapter II

The night passed slowly as we meandered across Montana.  At this time, there was no speed limit in the daylight, but at night, police patrols were not really necessary to enforce the law as it would take a very brave or very stupid soul to attempt to speed in the midst of so much life on the highway.  We saw deer very regularly, often, seemingly grazing along the white line, elk occasionally, to say nothing of the lesser creatures of the night.  About the time we thought that th

Elk on Hiway… not a fun scenario in the middle of a dark night

ese traffic obstacles might be abating their assault, we rounded a long, sweeping curve to see a huge Hereford bull grazing placidly along the shoulder of the road.  He seemed to be totally oblivious to his surroundings, existing entirely in his own world while totally ignoring the meager traffic passing him in the night.

Daylight welcomed us into the city of Bozeman, MT, the original Cowboy Town, USA.  Even though the clock had not yet reached six am, every café was busy and old pick-ups were everywhere.  As we walked into a likely looking eatery, we were greeted by a full house of mostly men ranging in age from too young to shave to a couple that looked as if they

Cowboy Town, USA

might have been here to see the carving of the mountains that surrounded the town.  All looked to have attended the same school of fashion, being clad in worn Levi’s, western shirts with snaps rather than buttons, a bandanna around the neck and pointed toed boots were the footwear of choice.  Each was topped out with a wide-brimmed sombrero, mostly of straw here in mid summer, which marked these men as to their occupation.  There were more than a few who carried sidearms as

Typical Montana Men

the dangers encountered working with half wild cattle in half wild country was the same this day as it had been a hundred years earlier.  There seemed to be a trend that required that being seated at a table meant you took your hat off, but if you were seated at the counter, no such amenity was necessary.  There were some at the tables even to whom it seemed that tipping one’s hat to the back of one’s head constituted “removal”… especially when the hat racks in the immediate vicinity became full.

I must say, that was, without doubt, one of the most memorable breakfasts of my life!  I ordered steak and eggs, rare on the steak and over easy on the eggs with fried potatoes and a big glass of milk… still my ideal breakfast.  I expected to be overfed in this café, but I didn’t, as it turned out, know the half of it!  My steak, first of all, was not the four to six ounce piece of low-grade whang leather you get in the national chains today.  It was a twenty ounce T-bone about an inch and a half thick.  Beside the steak were four eggs cooked perfectly and the other end of the platter, for no mere plate could start to hold this feast, were enough fried potatoes to make Idaho blush.  On a separate plate was a stack of toasted home-made bread surrounded by a cube of butter and about six different jams and jellies.  I looked at what sat before me and wondered if, perhaps, she had misunderstood me and thought I was ordering for the whole table.  That I was in error in this supposition became apparent with the arrival of about a bushel of pancakes that was steered to one side of the table while an omelet approximately the size of Delaware was delivered to Foghorn on the far side of the table.  Along with his omelet came a side of bacon that, had they left the legs on it, could have walked in on its own.  All of this was flanked by a stack of fried spuds to rival that now holding down my platter.  What a breakfast!  I must admit that, while I gave it my all, I simply could not finish it.  I had always considered myself a healthy eater, being an active sort, but when it came to breakfasts, these Montana boys were in a class of their own.  The steak was delicious and cooked precisely to perfection

“I’ve seen critters wounded worse than that that were still walking” was Denny’s observation, if I remember right.  The eggs pretty much disappeared but there were enough potatoes left for two “grand-slam” breakfasts down the street now.  The left-over steak and the toast I carried with me on leaving in case I should, somehow, find myself getting hungry again before reaching Connecticut… a slim likelihood, I felt just then… or, perhaps, we might encounter a band of starving Cossacks and we could supply them for the next week or so.

Denny made fairly good inroads on his omelet but everything else just kind of stayed there.  As for the Truck, poor Mikey never finished one of his giant pancakes and I was sure we would have to render aid to him before we got him out of there and into the car.

During the time of this marathon, the conversation in the restaurant was general with no lines drawn as to who was talking to whom.  Within minutes, it was known that there were three sailors in the place and we were welcomed most warmly and sincerely as men among men, though we were all just nineteen years old and a mere year out of high school.

It was a later start out of Bozeman than we had planned for, but hunger was not likely to be a problem for some time.  The trek on across eastern Montana was interesting as I had never before seen the plains.  “Miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles” was the thought that came to mind.  I thought this to be the most desolate landscape to be found in the country, an opinion that was to undergo great revisions over the next few years as I drove across the nation another four or five times using the southern route across Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and the California desert.

Afternoon found us with parched throats somewhere near Miles City, MT when, like an oasis in the Sahara, an A&W Root Beer stand appeared out of the shimmering sky to land on the horizon.  Mike was driving this leg and he pulled us into a slot where a very attractive daughter of one of the ranches surrounding us came to the car for our order. (Yes, car hops were real… even in MT)  Of course, we had the tallest, frostiest root beer imaginable and somewhere in the middle of enjoying them, our driver decided he wanted to keep his mug.  He opened the car door, placed the tray on the pavement with a generous tip and we left the place behind with two people in the car protesting vehemently.  It was at this point that Foghorn and I decided we might have chosen our traveling companion with a bit more care.  The fact that he owned the car was about all that kept us from throwing him out on his butt.  We thought it might be somewhat difficult to explain to our next commanding officer how we, with his car, arrived safely and in good time while he was still in Montana, probably fighting Indians.

Our route took us across just a corner of North Dakota then into South Dakota.  It was our arrival in South Dakota that was most highly anticipated as, at that time, a person of our years could legally buy beer.  As I was not then, nor ever, actually, a great fan of beer, I was elected driver long before the term “designated driver” ever came into common use.

Evening found us in a small café in a tiny town on the banks of the Missouri River.  The waitress was again young, friendly and quite attractive… our favorite kind, it seems.  As it turned our, she was neither naïve nor gullible.  About mid-way through a pleasant dinner, there began a tremendous electric storm.  The lightening flashed brilliantly and the thunder crashed so loudly it seemed the earth was going to be rent in tw

The Lightening Flashed, the Thunder Crashed and the World Went Dark Around Us

ain.  In the midst of this show of God’s splendor, I was innocently flirting with our waitress, trying to convince her that being as frightened as I was, it was imperative that she sit with me and hold my hand lest I flee screaming into the night.  While my efforts were not being rewarded with any great success, we were both enjoying the sport, although it did seem that she was not really buying fear as my motivation for her holding my hand.  This reverie was shattered in an instant when an unbelievably bright flash was punctuated by a bolt of lightening hitting the light pole across the street turning the darkness of a misty night into the brilliance of a noonday.  The flash was followed instantly by a deafening crash of thunder and the darkness of midnight as all the lights in that part of town went out.  By this time, the light sprinkle that had ushered us into town had managed to work itself into the frenzy of a full-blown storm and water was falling so heavily that one could not see across the street even before the lights went out.

Another flash briefly illuminated our environs only to be extinguished by a crash of thunder that rattled the windows in the café.  I heard a squeal of fright and our waitress fairly flew across the intervening space and landed in the booth next to me.  Astonished as I was, I was just as pleased when she buried her head in my chest, all the while sobbing in seeming terror.  I wrapped my arms around her shoulders and held her close, whispering soothing mantras into her tiny ear.  All too soon, for my part, the storm pa

Sunset on the Missouri River in Central South Dakota…

ssed on and she was able to regain her composure enough to sit up straight and be embarrassed at what she had done.  I took great care to make her realize that she had done nothing improper and, in fact, the pleasure had, indeed, been mine!

Although the storm moved on across the prairie, our lights remained out so the now shy young lady remained seated by my side, although she was no longer clinging to me in need.  Another staff person brought a candle to our table which provided the light, if not exactly the ambiance, to finish our dinner.  It must be admitted, however, that the level of company in our booth was so much higher at the end of our meal than it had ever been in the beginning.

Naturally we were reluctant to leave this small café, me more than most, and not merely because of the torrential rain still falling.  Unfortunately, this too had to pass and with it a warm hug of friendship and a wish for good fortune, we made a dash to our car parked immediately in front of the café.  As quickly as we made our exit, we were not effective in keeping our tail feathers dry and by the time we were safely inside the car, we were soaked to the skin.

Our trip continued through the night on across the prairies of Dakota.  I’m not sure, it was dark and the rain persisted, though not with the same fervor as it had in town, but I think I we saw a tree once!  We passed through Minneapolis, MN sometime in the middle of the night and morning found us fighting dense fog while making our way south from Eau Claire, WI.

Chapter III

By mid day we rolled into Monona and had reached Jake on the phone, much to his great dismay.  It seems we were a day earlier in our arrival than he had expected us to be.  Evidently, in our planning, we had allowed a full extra day in case of emergency and he had construed this to mean that we would pick him up a day later that we had planned.

As we sat over a spare lunch provided by Jake’s family, we decided to spend our Saturday night in Iowa at a dance hall in the nearby town of Postville.  Jake had a date planned for his last night home and he was loathe to leave without seeing that date through.  Seeing the lady he was taking out that evening, I can’t say that I blamed him for his reluctance to leave early.

“You see,” Jake began, “in Iowa, they can only sell beer in the bars.  You normally cannot buy liquor over the bar, but this place in Postville sells drinks too.  Of course, you have to be over twenty-one, but they don’t check all that closely there either.”

Our first stop was a laundromat to wash a set of uniform whites, since it was

Downtown Postville, Iowa

much too warm in mid-summer Iowa to wear the woolen blue uniform.  We had no sooner gotten started than one of the women in the place said, “I’m sure you guys have more important things to do that sit around here all day.  You just leave those and we’ll take care of them for you,” indicating the rest of the ladies there.  Several nods from around the room assured us that our clothes were in good hands.

I was about to explain how to iron them inside out when this dear little, old gray haired lady piped up, “Just never you mind about that, my husband was on three ships during the WAR and I learned to iron whites before you were born!  Just give us about two hours and we’ll be done.”

Our next event in our schedule was to somehow get a shower, or, at worst, a bath.  The Jacobsons were not that happy to see us and did not offer any more hospitality than that pitiful lunch we’d had earlier, so we took it on our own to get this done in our own way.  It took us but a few minutes of discussion and a ten minute ride and we were at a secluded spot on the banks of the Mississippi River.  Into the river we went, soap and shampoo in hand.  Over the next half hour we were able to complete all our ablutions, including a respectably close shave.

By the time we had eaten a good dinner and returned to reclaim our fresh laundry, it was time to dress.  We accomplished this in the men’s room of a local truck stop of sorts and emerged clean and pressed, fresh shaven and with an air that spoke of the pursuit of fair game in the night ahead.

Although we had felt a bit of trepidation in our ability to locate this barn in a town none us of had ever been in before tonight, it turned out just as we were told… “Drive straight through

Iowa Barn… What a special night that turned out to be!

Postville and, as you leave town, you’ll see it… you can’t miss it.”  It was true and while the time we spent driving through town was remarkably of brief duration, we did, indeed, spot it right off and wheeled in, parked and walked to the door.

It was amazing, as we walked in, to realize just how huge the barn was and how well arranged it was for its new purpose.  That it had been a working barn on a busy farm was evident, but tonight it would be hard to tell that.  My only real concern was just how many people would actually show up at such a place on the edge of a very small town in the middle of “farm country, USA.”  I needn’t have worried, as it turned out.

As we entered, there were, perhaps, twenty people in the cavernous facility and the doorman, an older gentleman with a huge smile and warm hand shake ushered the three of us to a table just a bit back from the dance floor… as I prefer.  I like to be able to talk sometimes and when too close to the front, even in those older, quieter days, the band made just too much noise for meaningful conversation.

“I’m Charlie,” he stated without that warm smile ebbing a bit.  “I’ve been doorman here for over thirty years.  You boys have what you want and I’ll be back to see you in a bit.”  With that, he was gone in a flash.  And a rather attractive, if business-like waitress showed up to take our order.

I must say, this was probably the first person I’d seen since arriving that did not appear to be happy to see us.  When I ordered a “ditch”, a western term for whiskey and water, she looked at me like I was some kind of insect that had crawled out from under a rock with no other purpose in life than to irritate her.

“This is Iowa,” she hissed, “We only serve beer here!”

I just looked at her and asked softly, “You don’t swerve drinks?  We heard that we could get a drink here…”

“No!” She stated flatly, “it’s beer of nothing…”

To be truthful, I was ready to leave at that point, but my two companions were either more mellow than I was or they were much thirstier.  To this day, I’m not sure which it was, but suffice to say, we decided to give it some more time.

In a matter of a very few minutes, Griselda the Grim returned with our beers took her due and left… never to return to our table again the rest of the night.  I really don’t think she wanted to be there that particular night.

The dust had but settled in her wake when Charlie came bouncing back to check on us.  “How’s everything with you boys?” he asked brightly.  “Are you getting everything you need?”

“We’re doing great,” I responded, only slightly mendaciously.  “Except I understood we could get a drink here, but the girl would only sell us beer.”

“Just a moment,” he responded as he took off for the bar at a pace that totally belied his years.  I could see him in deep conversation with the two or three people behind the bar and, some kind of consensus arrived at, he sped back to our table and said: “Anything you want is fine now.  You have to understand we must be careful of strangers, but as long as you’re in those uniforms, you’re ok with me!”

Thus began the most convivial of evenings.  That first beer was the only beverage we were allowed to purchase for ourselves the entire night.  As might be understood, we did not order again through Griselda the Grim, but went directly to the bar and there was always someone wanting to buy a drink for us.  Also, we were never short of willing partners on the dance floor as there seemed to me to be an abundance of young, attractive ladies in the near vicinity of our table.  The mystery was solved when I as dancing with a young woman I particularly favored and, with whom, the feeling seemed to be mutual.  While we were dancing, she remarked to me, “You know, Thom, a strange thing happened when my sisters and I came in tonight.  We asked for a table up front like we always do and Charlie told us ‘no, you don’t want to be up front tonight, there are three sailors in the back!’”  Charlie was funneling all the best women back to where we were seated!

Throughout the evening, one person or another would drift in, look us up and tell us Jim was on his way and would be along shortly.  This probably happened six or seven times through the night, but he never materialized. In fact the dance was done and the last kiss stolen on a magical stroll in the moonlight was but just a beautiful memory when his brother arrived to tell us to meet Jim at his home in Monona.  I didn’t really want to do that just now, as I had been invited to coffee with my favorite young lady as had my two compadres with their ladies, but we decided we’d better remember our purpose and move on.  I cannot begin to tell how difficult it was to kiss that lady goodbye and climb back into a car that now seemed more a prison cell than a conveyance and resume our trek east.

I’m not sure how we made the drive to his home but soon we had his gear loaded, goodbyes were said and, with Jake, the only one sober of the four of us, at the wheel, we were back on the trail again.

Chapter IV

About that night’s drive, I have no recollection as I was asleep in my little corner of the car.  I probably was dreaming of the little girl I’d left behind in that tiny Iowa town.  I awoke to a bright sun peeking into my eyes as we were nearing Chicago.  From the windy city it was due east across Indiana and on into Ohio.

Evening was rapidly approaching as we approached Cleveland, the City on the Lake, and we knew we had to change freeways here.  We were all alert and watching but never did we ever see a sign announcing our impending freeway ch

I can’t Imagine why we had trouble finding our way…

ange.  Yes, there were signs announcing “Interbelt East” and “Interbelt West”, etc., but a car full of Western Boys had no idea what an Interbelt was!  The end result was we got to see the Lake Erie waterfront up close and personal.  It was about this time we decided some local knowledge might be useful and we wheeled into a familiar looking gas station.  This was in the era when they were still service stations and, as such,

… There were signs everywhere… even behind the trees…

dispensed information as well as gasoline.  It was here that we learned that the term Interbelt could roughly be interpreted as a freeway or, at least, a highway, because not all of them, to be sure, were free.  After gaining this little nugget of knowledge, we were soon on our way out of town, happily sailing eastward toward Pennsylvania.


… And it was all perfectly CLEAR…

was just a short trip across that portion of Pennsylvania created such that the Keystone State could have its own port on the Great Lakes.

It was very late when we rolled into Niagara Falls, NY and the town was pretty much asleep.  We were sure we would not be able to see much of the Falls since it was nearly midnight, but we were anxious to try, at least.  Since parking was not a problem in the acres and acres of empty lot, we drove as close as we could, then, to the Falls and got out, hoping to at least be able to say we’d seen such a famous icon.  We walked along the sidewalk at the visitor’s center.  It wasn’t long before a uniformed watc

The Gorgeous Falls

hman approached us to inquire as to our intentions in the vicinity of these closed facilities.  A few moments of conversation served to relay our hopes and that we were simply four sailors en route to our new duty station and had hoped to catch a glimpse of the sight we’d heard of our whole life.

The Falls at Night… simply spectacular

“Follow me,” he uttered.  “We’ll see what we can do for you.”  With that, he led us through several doors and a couple of gates then said, “Wait here.”

We could see the white froth of the Falls in the bright moonlight and it was beautiful.  We were marveling in our good fortune that we were able to actually be allowed to see this sight in the night when, to our utter surprise, the entire scene was bathed in lights bright enough to be daylight!  I cannot begin to describe the thrill of seeing that magnificent site bathed in the myriad of lights now playing on the cataract.  The most amazing fact was… there were only four young sailors and an older watchman to see it…

It was late when we, at last bid a fond farewell to this helpful man and found ourselves driving through a quiet, residential neighborhood populated by now dark homes and the occasional small business even.  It was in one of these areas that we noticed the bright neon lights that indicated a neighborhood bar.  A quick discussion among a mostly subdued group yielded the opinion that since we had a half hour until closing time, a night cap might well be in order.

There were but four others in the bas as we entered.  The juke box, like every other juke box in every other similar establishment was playing Patsy Cline’s “Crazy”, the great Willie Nelson tune.  First one couple then the other moved to the tiny area that served as a dance floor in the little bar.  We made our way to the polished wooden bar and each, mounting a stool, we ordered a drink apiece, safe in the knowledge that, this being New York, we could legally do so.  New York at that time had a legal drinking age of eighteen, a fact not lost on four wandering sailors.  Time was short, we knew, so we had no designs on a long stay, but when the bartender, who, it turned out, owned the place as well, learned who we were, he served us another… on the house… and brought forth a photo of a submarine, telling us that he’d had a couple of guys stop in last week who were s

USS Thresher SS(N) 693 Lost at sea in 1963

ubmariners and they’d left him a picture of their boat.  Although it meant little at the time, the picture of SS(N) 593… the fleet Fast Attack Submarine U.S.S. Thresher would become a name remembered in solemnity when, a few months later, she was lost at sea with all hands.

Closing time came and went, marked only by the proprietors locking of the front door, turning off the outside lights and closing of the shutters on the single window.  The two couples continued to dance and the four sailors continued to talk and to drink slowly, though one, the next driver switched his drinks to straight Pepsi-Cola.

Daylight found us somewhere in the middle of New York state, in amazement at the discovery we had made over the night of a phenomenon not found in our native west… the Turnpike… we were astounded at the rate at which this rapacious beast devoured the few funds we had remaining.  A hurried War Council concluded that even the cost of another night on the road would be preferred to feeding these quarter-mongers, so we got off the Turnpike and plotted a course across what remained of New York and Connecticut.  Our bypass cost us a few hours, perhaps, but by mid afternoon, a full day ahead of our deadline, we rolled up to the main gate of the Fleet Submarine Warfare Training Center in Groton, CT and ended an odyssey of epic proportions.


This story is 100% true and occurred exactly as described.  There were other trips in subsequent years, including one in which I travelled from Charleston, SC to Santa Rosa, CA in 56 hours.  But there were none so memorable as few days in late July and very early August of 1962.  I have no idea of the fate of my mates on this trek… as alluded to, we were a bit more than miffed at Dodge and his antics on this

My Boat… USS James Madison SSB(N) 627 Gold

trip, so didn’t  try to remain in contact.  Foghorn and I remained friends all through our school tenure.. from Sub School, we returned to Dam Neck and Polaris Missile Class C School.. and from there we went to out boats.  I to USS James Madison, SSB(N) 627 Gold then under construction at Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock in Newport News, VA… I think Denny went to a boat at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, CA… probably the USS Daniel Boone SSB(N) 629 as they were crewing up at that time… Jake… I have no idea about him at all… but we all shared a few days that will live forever in our minds…

Thom Cantrall

Life Onboard a Submarine

November 17, 2010 by  

An Incident in My Life at Sea
Thom Cantrall

The sun never shines when you are deep below the surface somewhere in the cold, rugged North Atlantic Ocean. It was July of 1967 and we were early in our fifth patrol. The upkeep period and the nights of Liberty in Southwest Spain were but a fading memory… though the antics of some of our crew would continue to be the subject of conversation throughout the next off-crew period.
We were a Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine, firing the Mk 3 Polaris Missile, USS James Madison SSB(N) 627 Gold.

Being such, the boat had two complete crews, Blue and Gold, which rotated on and off the vessel at three month intervals. While one crew had the boat, the other crew was home. Our cycle ran thusly: the first

Our Ship's Patch... our Emblem

month home was strictly R&R, Rest and Relaxation. If anyone wanted leave, this was the time for it. Those who did not avail themselves of it called in to the office on Thursday and physically came into the office on Monday. As can be seen, life was not rough during R&R. If one wanted make a short trip that would take him out of the general Charleston, SC area for more than three days, leave papers were issued to protect everyone in case of accident or something else untoward outside of our Liberty area. When he returned, the papers were simply discarded and the leave time was not counted. All in all, it was pretty difficult to use up all the thirty days per year leave we were granted.
The next two months following R&R was a “crew training” period. The Submarine Training Center at Charleston presented classes and simulator training in virtually all areas of submarine and military activity. Normally, I would attend two to three weeks of these classes… and even taught one on occasion in the absence of the regular instructor. If not in a class, we came to the office on Monday and Friday and called in on Wednesday.
All too soon, this idyll closed and it was time to mount a Boeing 707 chartered for the purpose and fly to Rota, Spain. Our arrival was timed to coincide with the return of the boat from her patrol. Invariably, we arrived in the middle of Western Spain’s night, although our bodies, still on Eastern Time, thought it was about 7 pm. Ah, the wonders of Jet Lag.
When morning finally came, after only approximately 238 hours,

USS James Madison SSB(N) 627 at sea

we rousted out of our temporary quarters deep in the bowels of the Submarine Tender USS Sperry. A breakfast of barely edible, surface craft food and it was down to the boat. For three days we coordinated with the Blue Crew, going over any machinery glitches and malfunctions and idiosyncrasies within any of the missiles on board. We covered everything anyone had made note of or anything else that was thought important, interesting

The Author at Change of Command Ceremony

or even amusing! At the end of the three days, a short ceremony was held wherein both crews stood in formation topside while each commanding officer read his orders, one relinquishing command and the other accepting command of the boat.
Below decks, we who were senior enough stood the watch in peace and comfort while this protocolic nonsense was playing itself out over our heads and out of our hearing.
Presently, tradition and regulation satisfied, the boat again belonged to the Gold Crew and the Blue Crew was headed to the air terminal to board their flight home. This, to our gang who maintained the sixteen Polaris on board, marked the beginning of an upkeep period that ran twenty-four hours a day for twenty-four to twenty-nine days. During this time, any updates to existing equipment or replacement of old equipment had to be effected. From three to five missiles were rotated off the boat and new ones installed in their place. Dynamic testing of the birds had to be performed. It was during this phase of testing that I and my counterpart, Charlie “Swamp Fox” Marshall, were most sorely tested. There were times that we went as long as seventy-two hours without sleep while conducting these tests.
Eventually, even this passed and, invariably, time was found for some recreation. I managed a few nights of liberty in the local area of Rota, Puerto de Santa Maria and Cadiz, Spain. I even managed, in the five times I was in Rota, to visit cities such as Sevilla, Toledo and Jerez de la Frontera, where I had the honor to sample a four-hundred year old wine. We had tours to Gibraltar, Tourmelinos and even the beautiful Granada. In all, I found Spain to be a most wonderful place filled with warm and friendly people. I was there in the mid 1960’s while Generalissimo Franco was still in power so, crime in the streets was unheard of… it just simply did not happen.
With upkeep completed and all systems up and running we would, just as the sun was setting in the western ocean, put to sea. My job at this time was to be in charge of the crews handling the mooring lines, making sure, once underway, that all mooring lines were stowed correctly and that all the stanchions and guidelines were also properly stowed. It could mean the life of the ship and the crew should any loose gear go adrift in a combat scenario so particular attention was paid to getting things done right and insuring all the lockers were properly secured. I was the last man down, signaling to the bridge when I went below that no man was left topside. As soon as I shut and dogged the after hatch, which would be the last time it was opened until we resurfaced on our way back into port sometime between fifty-six and seventy-two days from now.
As soon as we were far enough from shore to reach water a hundred fathoms deep, the Captain dived the ship. With that action, all sensation of motion ceased. From that moment until our resurfacing near this same hundred fathom curve on our return, in the absence of a storm we could not tell that we were moving. We could, literally, circumnavigate the globe submerged and, without looking at instruments, gauges or dials, we would never know we had ever left Spanish waters… Except vertically!
The middle and upper level decks in the Missile Compartment

Submarine Launched Polaris Mk III Missile

were floating decks. As such, they were not rigidly affixed to the hull, but rode on studs that were mounted directly to the outer, or pressure, hull. Since the pressure hull, as its name suggests, is subject to sea pressure, forty-four lbs per square inch per one-hundred feet of depth, it compresses and expands as sea pressure increases or decreases with the change of depth. The result was, they could not change depth more than six to eight inches without the deck moving on one of these studs, creating a distinct popping sound within the compartment. Consequently, the ship could go as fast or as slow as the Control Room wished and we could never know about it, but let them change depth by a foot and we knew immediately!
Once we were in our patrol area it was a boring existence with people actually arguing over who got to do a task that was upcoming. We stood our watches six hours on and twelve hours off with very little to do otherwise. There was a movie shown a couple of times a day; usually after dinner and at midnight. The evening movie was on a schedule but at midnight, we could show anything that had already been a shown as a scheduled movie. The selection process for this midnight movie was generally a major argument over the merits of one movie versus another, often most vociferously remonstrated for or against by a person who had no intention of watching it, no matter what played, but was just in it for the fun of the argument. Since we carried some seventy movies per patrol, by this time, most of us who had been there since her inception where hard pressed to find a movie we had not seen before… often seen several times. After all, Hollywood can only make so many movies a year and if you discount those not worth watching the problem begins to become apparent.
There were three card games going at almost any given time, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. There was a low-stakes, nickel, dime, quarter, poker game, a pot-limit poker game and a pinochle game. About the only thing that ever interrupted the poker games was a call to battle stations or some other general drill. As one man left to go on watch, another would be coming off watch and take his place. The pinochle game was not exactly that way as we tended to have our favorite partner, usually someone approaching our own skill level or slightly better. I was in the 99th percentile of this game. We generally ran two pinochle tournaments per patrol, the first with a fifty dollar per person entry fee and the second with a one-hundred dollar per person entry fee. Normally sixteen teams constituted a tournament. Winners were paid through the top four places with the winners taking half the pot. I tried on several occasions to organize a five-hundred dollar per person game, winner take all, but could never get the requisite sixteen teams. Considering the fact that the

Submarine Launched ICBMs...

brand new Chevy Impala I had bought just prior to this patrol cost me a total of three-thousand-one-hundred dollars, the sixteen-thousand dollar payoff to the winning team would have been well worth the effort. Perhaps the fact that my partner and I had won the six prior tournaments might have created an aura of reticence.
My partner, Jim Walter from Monroe, LA spoke with a pronounced lisp and only the fact that he was the senior Petty Officer in the Fire Control Technician’s gang kept him from receiving more ridicule than he did. These FT’s are the fellows who maintained all the computers and other electronic equipment that prepared the missile for launch. Walt and I stood our watches together in the Missile Control Center, the submarine’s equivalent of the “blockhouse” at Cape Canaveral. He was, usually, the Fire Control Supervisor and I was the Missile Test Technician. By this time, I was also qualified to stand the F.C.S. watch as well, so if he had to visit the head or wanted to step out for a coffee run, he could do so without calling in another qualified Tech. Leaving one person on duty in the Control Center, while not officially sanctioned was not frowned on either, especially as long as such times were of limited duration and not overdone.
Walt was an older man, practically ancient by submarine

standards. I was nearly twenty-four by this time and he must have been at least thirty or thirty-one years old… practically in the grave, to be sure. Even though I was of an age with most of my peers, I never really fit in with them and Walt and I were a much better match. Besides, we both preferred to listen to Country Music, so didn’t have to endure the ‘Stones or the Supremes while on watch.
The highlights of the day were the meals. We had the best food and the best cooks in the Navy, bar none. At that time, the regular Navy allowed one dollar and thirty cents per man per day for food. In our program, they allowed one dollar and fifty cents per man per day. That doesn’t sound like a lot of difference, but, believe me, the difference was substantial. We had lobster or prawns, or both, at least once a week. We had steak in one form or another at least twice a week. Also included irregularly were dishes like prime rib roast, roast duck, lamb curry and roast leg of lamb and about anything else a man can dream. The lack was in fresh commodities. Fresh vegetables were impossible as was milk. Even eggs became iffy after a few weeks at sea. These pleasures notwithstanding, the food was seldom less than excellent.
The boat provided four meals per day, one after each watch, though the norm was to eat before and after watch. The only time anyone ever got out of his bunk for a meal was if there was something very special being served or it were a special celebration. The main meal was at noon with the six pm meal being a light dinner. Midnight was generally soup or beans and do-it-yourself sandwiches. Often, if there were leftovers from earlier meals they would meet their demise here. In addition to this pantheon of edibles, the mess hall was always open if one felt the need for a sandwich or such… just make sure you clean up after yourself! I think the average person gained about fifteen pounds per patrol. The standard joke was that we wished we could catch the person responsible for shrinking all our regular clothes while we were underway and were wearing the Dacron jumpsuit that was our “at sea” wardrobe.
Life at sea was generally quiet with boredom being our biggest enemy. That is probably why, when Chief Petty Officer Jim Overfield called us together and dropped his news on us that we were so receptive to it. According to the Chief, the officers had hatched a plan whereby each crew was to create and assemble a list of questions pertaining to our area of expertise. The Torpedomen (TM’s) on the launch tubes and hydraulics, the launch system rocket motors and such, the FT’s on their gear, mostly the Missile Control Center and the MT’s… me… on everything else. This included the birds, their systems, the control and ancillary equipment such as power supplies, temperature control systems… even down to where the power switches were for any particular piece of equipment that concerned the Polaris Missile and the interface between the MCC and the Missile Compartment and the individual birds. In fairness, lest one think the weapons department was being singled out, this was happening throughout the boat. All departments were doing the same thing, from Radio to Engineering, from Sonar to Navigation; everyone was so involved, though how a Yeoman (the secretaries of the ship) could come up with a hundred and fifty questions is beyond me… there are, after all, only so many things you can ask about a paper clip. These questions, once assembled and verified, would be used to quiz the crew of one of our sister submarines while in the training phase of our off-crew time. I was rather surprised at the enthusiasm the entire Weapons Department showed in the pursuit of the hundred best questions from each gang. We Missile Technicians covered everything concerning the missile including its internal electronics and computers, its guidance and targeting and flight control systems as well as all the equipment that attaches to it or interfaces with it. Even the power supplies and heating and cooling systems were our responsibility. Questions as detailed as “Where is the switch to turn off power to the Temperature Regulating and Monitoring Power Supply (TRAMPS) on tube 7 located?” That would be WP 2, starboard side, upper level of the missile compartment, second switch down on the left side (in case you had to do it in the dark in an emergency). Amazing, isn’t it, how a detail from forty years past comes so readily to mind while being unable to recall what I’m supposed to do this afternoon.
The torpedomen (TM’s) covered the launch tubes themselves, the hydraulics and air systems and their controls as they pertain to the tubes as well as the function and operation of the Launch Control Center console in the compartment. The Fire Control Technicians (FT’s) covered all of their equipment in the MCC and the missile alignment gear in the missile compartment.
As I mentioned earlier, there were multiple watch stations within the Weapons Department. In addition to the two in the MMC which I described previously, there were three in the Missile Compartment. These were the Launch Operations Supervisor (LOS), usually a TM and his assistant, a junior TM or MT. The LOS was stationed at the Launch Control Panel and could not leave without being relieved by another qualified LOS watch. The Assistant LOS was the legs for the LOS watch and had the responsibility, as well, of monitoring a number of critical gauges, dials and indicators. He was required to

Author at Launcer Operations Panel in "At Sea" garb

make a regular check of a number of such places, noting pressure reading, temperatures or volumes as indicated. The third man on watch in the compartment was an MT who had the responsibility of making any adjustments necessary to anything in the compartment pertaining to the missiles or their ancillary equipment. Included in this were the TRAMPS, the power supplies, the missile heating and cooling system as well as a myriad other such things like the interface with the MCC and anything else the ALOS was not capable or qualified to handle. Totally unofficially, he was also responsible for maintaining the contraband music system that was piped up from the MCC into the compartment via unused wiring between the two compartments. The technician was free to wander at will throughout the compartment, even going forward to the mess hall for a coffee run as long as the LOS knew of his whereabouts at all times. It wasn’t like he was often needed as entire six hour watches came and went with nothing arising that required his attention, but you never knew…
Each of these positions had a different set of requirements, so it was necessary to complete a qualification process in order to stand that particular watch. By this time, I had qualified on every watch station in the Weapons Department, including that in the Torpedo Room. The reason for doing this was mainly boredom, although the learning of and the qualification on the Torpedo Fire Control System was a matter of necessity.
We carried two torpedo Fire Control Technicians and never rotated them at the same time. Standard procedure was carry one senior, experienced tech and a second, junior and lesser experienced tech. After the junior man was competent in the operation and maintenance of the system, the senior tech would be transferred out and a new junior tech brought in. On this particular patrol, we had just made the switch, bringing on board a new, very junior tech right out of school and the day before we were to leave Rota on patrol, the senior FT came down with appendicitis and had to be shipped to the hospital. The only man available to replace him in the short time available was another very green very young technician.
About two weeks into the patrol, the power supply to the Torpedo Data Computer (TDC) failed and Chief Overfield asked if I could help them get it back online. It was a small job to complete, actually, one transistor in the control circuit had failed and as soon as that was replaced, it was back up and running. A day or two after that incident I happened to wander through the Control Room where the Chief was standing the Dive Officer’s Watch. I stopped a moment to chat with him and he asked if I was busy at all… when I replied that I was bored stiff, he suggested I take the ordinance pamphlets on the torpedo system and learn it to take it over this patrol. I must admit, it was a highly interesting experience and quite unique. I doubt there has ever been another instance of a Missile Technician maintaining and operating the Torpedo Weapons System. While it brought no extra pay, and really no recognition more than a raised eyebrow from Captain Snyder when he realized who was doing it, it did bring me more than just a little notoriety and set the stage for what was to come with this cross crew quiz.
On completion of this trip, we did not go back to Spain as we had supposed, but brought the boat all the way back into Charleston, SC. This added an extra week to our time at sea, resulting in the longest submerged run to date, sixty-five days. We arrived off the coast of South Carolina as a major hurricane was beating the area. Since we could not enter port in that kind of storm, we laid up well at sea and waited until the next day to surface and enter port. The winds were gone, but the rain was torrential. I have never, before or since, seen such rain. It was absolutely amazing how much water was falling from the sky. I sent my line handlers topside just as we passed under the Cooper River Bridge, but the rain was so heavy that, as soon as the mooring lines were all laid out and made ready, I brought them all back below decks and we waited in the missile compartment until we were actually needed topside.
By this time, each gang had from two-hundred-fifty to five-hundred three by five cards with one question on the front side, its answer on the reverse on everything in their respective areas. In addition, there was a series on such things as Nuclear Safety, Nuclear Weapons, their handling, security and logistics. There was another set on the administration of the ship, the squadron and the Navy in general. In all, our department had amassed some one-thousand to fifteen-hundred questions and answers. The program called for any particular group to answer about one-hundred to, maybe, one-hundred and twenty-five questions covering, mainly, their area of responsibility only, plus some from the Nuclear Weapons and Ships Policy areas. Never was it planned that any TM would be asked a question from the MT or FT list and vice versa.
It was planned that three or four men would sit together for the quiz, primarily answering in turn, but able to rely on his cohorts if necessary. About a hundred questions were to be asked of the group by the lead Petty Officer of the gang on the other ship, in our case, the USS Tecumseh SSB(N) 628. Another twenty five or so would be asked

This is us at sea, submerged... it is all our enemies saw of us too...

by the Weapons Officer from the general Nuclear Weapons and Administration group. The whole process was supposed to take from forty-five minutes to an hour, depending on how sharp and experienced the particular guys on the hot seat were. Our own lead Petty Officer and Chief were also present, sitting in the back, observing but offering opinion only in the few cases where there might be a disparity in arrangement between the two boats in question. As can be imagined, there were few of these instances between hull numbers 627 and 628 even though we were built in Newport News, VA and the 628 boat was built in New London, CT.
…That is, until the Swamp Fox and I came in. Our first indication of a non status-quo was the fact it was just the two of us. I immediately wondered at this… so much so that I asked the Chief about it. His answer that “it’s just how the numbers came out…”, and that since Charlie and I had been on the boat the longest, we should be able to handle it…
That part at least was correct. When I first boarded the boat some four years prior in July of 1963, she had two by twelves for decks in some places and was barely wet. She had virtually no equipment installed yet and was just an empty hull tied up to a pier. I predated Charlie by only two to three weeks in time on board, but we were both there throughout the entire installation, testing and grooming process of the entire weapons system. To say that we had experience with every single process and system in the Weapons System would be not more than the truth. In addition, we were both endowed with an innate and insatiable curiosity that literally drove us to find out how things worked. The word on the boat was… the difference between the Swamp Fox and I was that I would take anything apart as far as I could so long as I was reasonably sure of being able to reassemble in so that it looked pretty much as it did before the evolution started. Charlie, on the other hand, would simply disassemble it with no such reservations.
One downside of this was my tendency to give too much information when asked a question or, as my best buddy, Smitty said… “Ask him what time it is and he’ll tell you how a watch works!”
A prime example of this curiosity, combined with a healthy dose of boredom, occurred when, while reading the Swops (Special Weapons Ordnance Pamphlet) Manual on our warhead, I noticed that the Neutron Generator in the warhead was shown as a black box with no further information. Now, I knew it was highly classified, and I was sure the details were contained in the Captain’s Swops on the warhead, but that, like all Highly Classified information was strictly “Need To Know”… I decided, after quizzing Mr. Suska as deeply as I could, to set out to learn for myself how it worked. He, for his part, could not tell me if I was right, but he would, he said, “tell you when you’re wrong…” Over the next few weeks, I got every text I could find on Nuclear Physics and interviewed as many of the Nuclear Power Plant officers as I could get to stand still for a few minutes. I then began to formulate scenaria. I knew the connections, what it took for power, etc. and I knew the elements that were heavy neutron emitters when thusly excited. Every day as he came off his watch, Mr. Suska would sit with me while I would expound on my latest scenario and he’d then tell me were I was wrong. Finally, one afternoon he told me nothing, just took my books from me and said, “That’s enough!” I figured I was very close to right.
Our second indication that things were not normal on the day of our quiz was when we arrived at the scheduled place at the appointed time and our Assistant Weapons Officer, Lieutenant Pete Suska was grinning widely as we came up to him. “Listen, guys,” he stated, “we didn’t mention this before, but you two will probably be asked about more than just your primary job. We’ve had discussions about the two of you and I’m afraid we’ve created a situation that has become more than was officially planned.” As it turned out, to have worried about what he described would have been a lot like worrying about spilling a cup of water on ones self just before falling out of the boat.
No amount of questioning on our part would gain us more information. He simply told us to go answer their questions and not be bothered by who was there or what was happening outside our area of responsibility and he’d run interference for us and see us after the session. This said, he opened the door for us and allowed us to enter ahead of him.
What greeted us was not the informal atmosphere we had tried to provide for those from the Tecumseh that we had tested. This looked more the review board for the Spanish Inquisition. I’m sure Joan d’Arc would have felt right at home here. Seated at a table in front of the room were, in addition to those described previously, the senior weapons officer and his assistant, the lead Petty Officer from all three ratings as well as their Operations Officer, a Lieutenant Commander, and both the Executive Officer and their Captain. At once, I knew we were in for a time of it. Over the next four hours and thirty minutes that panel asked us every question they had on all areas of the weapons systems, missile and torpedo. When the departmental questions were complete, we broke for lunch and reconvened immediately thereafter.
The first people I met on reentering the building were Captain Snyder and our Exec, Mr. Logan. Neither spoke to us other than to acknowledge us with a wave and a smile as we proceeded on to the crucible.
The afternoon session only lasted about two hours but it was their Captain, Exec and Ops Officer asking the questions. These were questions on Nuclear Safety, on casualty procedures, on the chain of command and military protocol, on targeting and target security… on the nuclear warheads, including theory and deployment. I can truthfully say that I have never been so thoroughly interrogated in my life on any subject.
Finally, their skipper closed his book and leaned back. This was a signal to others, I suppose, as, hearing a noise behind me, I turned to witness at least fifteen officers rising to leave the room. When they had entered, how long they had been there, or even who they were, I had no idea. The only ones I recognized were those from our own crew, the Captain, Exec and Weapons Officers.
A few closing questions brought the ordeal to its culmination and the Tecumseh’s Captain shook our hands… a rare thing among Naval Officers and enlisted personnel… thanked us for a “rare treat” and he departed. We were dismissed with the thanks of the room and rose to leave. I had no idea I was as exhausted as I actually was, but it was a real effort to walk from that room.
We had just gained the hallway when Lt. Suska motioned to us from a room across the hall, beckoning us therein. What greeted us was pretty unbelievable. A good portion of our wardroom was there, including those who’d been in the quiz room and several others. They actually applauded us as we came into the room! Lt. Suska was grinning from ear to ear as he said very matter-of-factly, “They would trade their entire department for either one of you!”
Captain Snyder added, “Men, you have done your crew and your ship proudly today. I have never witnessed such a display of knowledge on such a wide range of subject matter presented so calmly and smoothly under very trying conditions. Congratulations and well done.” To this he added that we had two weeks basket leave, i.e. uncounted leave days, on our account for whenever we wanted them.
That was the end of the story. Nothing more was ever said about it and life went on. The following patrol was my last on board James Madison. I left her in April of 1968 having been transferred to the Polaris Missile Facility, Pacific, located at N.A.D. (Naval Ammunition Depot) Bangor, just outside of Bremerton, WA. After two years there, my enlistment expired and I left the service after nine years of active duty, remaining in Washington, more or less, to this day.

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