Hal’s Other Interests and Activities
Among other interests is TBI.
Hal’s class in college graduated in June, 1941, just 6 months before
the attack on Pearl Harbor. His major field of study had been
Psychology, which he had found interesting enough to pursue in further
studies. Of course, they were having this WAR . . . By the
time that was finished, he had a wife and child to support, and further
studies were not to be . Even then, however, he had not
seriously considered Traumatic Brain Injury for a field of study.
During the 30s, the brain and its cells were belived to be “hard
wired”, with areas of the brain dedicated to certain functions.
It was thought that any injury to a part of the brain, was final.
forward to 2007; working on his own memoirs had so improved
his memory that he was asked to lead a workshop on memory restoration
for survivors of TBI, Traumatic Brain Injury. By
this time Neurologists, with brain-scanning technology, had learned the
brain cells are very plastic, unfocused, able to switch to new or
different functions. Whether Stroke Tumor our physical trauma caused
the damage, recover is quite possible.
Hal has learned of a number of “brain exercises” that are helping survivors as they struggle to recover. He
has also learned that they can help him, and physically and mentally
fit friends, to sharpen their minds and memory. These
exercises are FREE for the asking.
Brain Injury Center
More of Those Other Interests . . .
Hal has been “fooling around in boats” since 1928. Beginning in
canoes at the age of 10,he gradually worked his way up to
cruising sailboats. On Lake Michigan he first encountered
Waterspouts in the early ‘70s. (see Grandfather Stories for
Then he moved to Southern California and the Santa Barbara
Channel. For the 1st time he encountered tides. To learn
about tides, he registered in the Boating Course of the Ventura Power
Squadron. That was over 30 years ago. You might say that one
thing led to another and things just got out of hand.
During those years he has held most of the positions
offered to Squadron Members, and taken most of the Marine Educational
Courses. And had the grandest time !
Having sold each of his boats, he now “gets his jollies” sailing
as an EGOB ( Experienced Guest On Board )
with inexperienced boaters, while gathering new material for Still More Grandfather Stories, which is building as he writes.
For example, on August 13, 1978, he and his wife were under sail at the
time and place of the Montecito Earthquake, directly over the
epicenter. ( See Grandfather Stories for details. )
the Ventura Power Squadron at Channel Islands Harbor
The StoryTeller's Stories
Reviews and excerpts
Beyond the stories
The Bottom Line
Once Again, One Thing Leads to Another
the Camarillo Air Show, sponsored by the Camarillo Experimental
Aircraft Association, allowed me to meet many other old coots from the
Army Air Corps days, mostly Fighter Pilots. They wanted to honor
Veterans of WWII and allow coming generation to learn about those times
from those of us who were there. So they set aside a hangar and
emptied it of all but some 4 x 10 foot tables and chairs. They
mailed us passes to the show, and badges proclaiming our status.
Thosde badges got us free lunch and snacks.
is interesting to see first hand the interest that exists across
several generations. The anti-War animosity directed against the
guys from the Viet Nam affair didn’t appear among those who spoke with
me. Also, those who showed the most interest were young men
and women currently flying modern planes. And one young man, an
airline Pilot, was asking the most searching questions. He was
astonished that I went into combat with less than 600 hours of
training. I told him that I had had the benefit of over 100 more
hours than most. He was also impressed that our controls were
hard wired, with cables running from control surfaces directly to
rudder pedals and/or the yoke.
involved in all this by a circuitous route. In the spring of
2002, the local Ventura Star ran an account of an interview with
me. Co. Bellion from the Air National Guard read it and we
connected. Then he introduced me to Lowell Steward, a retired
pilot in the 332nd Fighter Group, one of the Tuskegee Airmen who flew
escort for our bombers in the 55th Wing of the 15th Air Force.
Another who read the article was Ed Burnham, of chapter 723 of
the EAA. He called and invited me to join the
Veteran’s Project in the Air Show in August. That was seven years
ago. Time does fly, as well.
Sailing the Santa Barbara Channel
Santa Barbara Channel lies along the shore of the California Bight,
south of Point Conception, and defined by to Northern Channel
Islands. It is blessed by a weather phenomenon known as the
Eastern Pacific High. It is also cursed by this phenomenon.
This High is a product of the Ocean itself, and reaches, roughly from
Pt. Conception down to Ensenada, Mexico, and out to Hawaii. It is
an area, centered 50 to 100 miles off shore from Ventura, and rising to
an atmospheric pressure of as much as 1036 millibars.
Under this condition, moist cool air flows inn over the shore
towards low pressure areas inland, the onshore wind that blesses
Occasionally the high pressure center will
drift eastward and center over the Nevada-Utah basin. Then winds
blow Westerly, producing the famed hot, dry Santa Anas, sometimes
fierce winds, that persist for several days.
Much of the time, the Channel is an idyllic area in which to enjoy
boating. The most constant hazard is the Commercial
Shipping, large vessels passing at some 20-25 knots north and south
along the charted shipping lane. When the onshore wind dies away,
a dense fog may develop that limits visibility to yards or even
feet A big ship at 25 knots, will cover ½ mile each
minute. The shipping lane is 4 miles wide. At 6
knots, a fast speed for a sailboat, It takes 40 minutes to cross
the lanes. When you cannot see. It’s pretty scary, because there
are often dozens of ships passing one way or the other every 24 hours.
However, once across the Shipping lanes, there is a wonderland to
explore. True the wind speed increases as we near the Island, bur
Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa are much as the shore of the mainland must
have bee 200 years ago.
The other nasty hazard of the area is the occasional East Wind.
When that high pressure cell lies over the great basin, the excess of
air is rushing toward low pressure cells, It comes crowding down
the great canyons leading from the high desert, warming itself by
compression as it does, and increasing speed as well.. The back
side of the Island provide a wind shadow, but in the channel, if
er stay west of the Ventura River canyon, it is no
More Sailing Adventures
Cruising Lake Michigan
and Eleanor, our Long Grove [Illinois]friends and sometimes business
partners, had lived on a 30-acre farm for some 15 years. In time,
Eleanor came to feel they should simplify their lives. They sold the
farm and moved into an apartment. It still wasn’t simple enough.
So they tried living on a boat. That’s simple?
Mrs. Blakesly, was the second wife, and widow of the man who apparently
created the KITCHEN AID Company, so Bill was able to do things that
would have strained other people’s resources.
They bought an Erickson 32 sloop for starters. They rented a mooring in
the Grant Park anchorage, just offshore from McCormick Place Convention
Hall. They often invited us to join them day sailing on Lake Michigan.
However they soon realized that living on a 32’ boat was not simple,
and it was too crowded. So they traded up to an Erickson 35. I guess
most boaters trade up, or sell out.
Now that they had a boat that would sleep 4, they suggested cruising.
Rosie and I, and others of their friends, were enthusiastic. It’s
wonderful having friends
who own boats. The same is true of swimming pools. Way to go! I’ve
never owned a pool, but I know about owning boats. Get a good friend to
buy a boat, then stay friends. It’s much better!
So cruises were planned. Bill was semi-retired, so they only had to plan for our free times.
Bill was a good sailor, but he was just learning about navigation. I
undertook to show him how to keep a Dead Reckoning plot and a log . . .
Lake Michigan holds a lot of water. At it's widest, it is 80 miles from
Racine, Wisconsin to Holland. Michigan. From Gary, Indiana to
Manistique, Michigan is 300 miles. Uninterrupted winds blow from Denver
and from Hudson's Bay. It is truly a great place to sail . . .
But, heck. Get my books and read about it . .
Private Pilot’s License
I went off to college, I was looking forward to learning to
fly. Sometime in the early 30s some Alumnus had endowed the
College with a hangar, 2 single-engine Aeroncas and an Instructor, Don
Gretzer. The Course included 2 semesters of ground school, and it
was open to sophomores or higher. Damn! I had to get
through my freshman year with decent grades. I’m sure that was
the idea. I had always looked forward to flying, since Dad had
been one of the first 100 pilots in the U S Army. I had grown up
on his, and his friends’ stories, and could hardly wait.
But I got
there eventually, and in September 1938 I met with Gretzer and signed
up. Gretzer, who was only a little younger than Dad, actually
knew of my father, through flying associates who had known him.
For the first time I began to realize that My Father was sort of
famous. A funny feeling. But Don Gretzer held it up to me
as a higher hurdle. “You have a lot to live up to”, he
Don was a good teacher. He started us out with a course in
Weather. He explained the physics of it, as they understood it so
many years ago. He showed us the maps that carried the weather
data from hundreds of reporting stations around the continent.
And he had us actually filling in data on a map (each of us
had his own) from an old table.
When done (it took us weeks, where professionals did one several times
daily) we then learned to identify and draw in fronts and actually make
a forecast from the data. Yes, instead of doing all this in time
to make a morning forecast, we spent about 5 weeks on it.
We spent some time on aerodynamics, and engine maintenance. Then
navigation. We were each given a copy of the Auto Club’s latest
road map of Central Ohio. After we had soloed in the air, Don
took us out and showed us how to follow a railroad, then fly low and
slow enough to read the sign on the rail station. Yes we learned
things like bearings and fixes, and drift vectors, but there were no
navigation facilities for airmen. So he vigorously forbade any
forays away from the known landmarks around Gambier and Mt Vernon until
he was satisfied with our learning. We did NOT have a radio.
Gambier, the site of Kenyon College, was out in the rural country of
Knox County, Ohio. There is a lot of generally flat land amongst
the low, knobby, glacial hills. Our landing field was about ½
mile square, grass covered. Really, a hay field. As I
remember, a local farmer did get one cutting of hay off it each summer,
in return for subduing the growth that occurred during the school
year. Like all good landing fields it had a power line running
along the downwind side, following the single track railroad.
Flight instructors today might be horrified at our approach
tactics. Our planes landed at about 65mph, and stalled at
60. Of course, on a typical day, the prevailing wind required us
to approach from directly over the campus, set on top of the hill
above the field.
So we lined up on the dormitory known as “Old Kenyon”, maintained a
good 50 feet above it's Victorian spires, kicked the nose aside so we
could side-slip down the hillside, let the plane straighten out and
pull up and over the power line.
At this point we could drop the nose and regain enough speed to cross
the tracks and land. Executed properly, we then had only a short
taxi run to the macadam pad by the hanger. We all competed informally
to see who could land closest, with the shortest taxi to the pad.
I really don’t remember just when I got my license. It was either
in the Fall of ’38, or Spring of ’39. The FAA Inspector (or
whatever he was called) assigned to our region came out, by
appointment. There were 5 or 6 of us all ready for him. Don
had to certify us, then we went up with “the Man” to
demonstrate our skills. Don had said “don’t get carried away and
try to impress him. Don’t show off! He’s seen it all.
He was an ACE in France in 1918.” So when my turn came I flew a
conservative pattern, followed his instructions, though I was so
terribly nervous that I feared I might get airsick. Of course it
really wasn’t as bad as it seemed. I didn’t embarrass or
distinguish myself. He signed my paper and called out
“Next”. I was history. But I had my paper!
We didn’t realize what lay ahead. When I finally found myself in
a Piper Cub with an Army Air Corps Instructor in 1943, he was totally
disinterested in the fact that I had already over 100 hours experience
in the air. In fact, he said, “ those are the most dangerous of
all new pilots.” Hah!