23 Feb 2006
I was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1935. Did the usual things, went to school K-12,
Graduating from Grosse Pointe High School in Jan of ‘54.
At age 17, while in high school, I joined the Submarine Reserve at the Broadhead Naval
Armory in Detriot. I got my "sea legs" aboard the reserve boat, USS Tambor, moored in the
Detroit River (can’t remember getting sea sick there).
After high school I trained as a mechanical draftsman in the auto industry (Chrysler &
Ford). 1956 was "bleak" for the auto industry. At the time I was with Chrysler Jet Engine
and Guided Missile and thought it might be a good time to get my "active duty" taken care
of and see the world (for two years).
Having completed sub school while in high school, I went directly to Philadelphia, got my
orders, clothing, etc., hopped a train to Key West, and reported aboard Thornback (in the
middle of summer wearing dress blues . . . who knew).
My two years aboard Thornback were a contradiction; turbulent, interesting, enjoyable. I
didn’t take well to "authority" and always had somebody in "my face". I started out in the
engine room (hot, dirty, noisy). There I lost my Detroit "sea legs" and spent much time
"feeding the fish". My turn as mess cook put me in touch with "chef’s" Tillis & Shelly, who
convinced me my creative talents would be wasted in the engine room. I gladly went to
work for them. We had great times, especially after I brought my Jaguar XK120 to Key
West. "Whoa Nelly". I think most of us enjoyed it one way or another. I finished my tour in
'59 at the Charleston Navy Yard. I look back with great pride at serving aboard Thornback,
enjoying the friendships and camaraderie. My only regret, in hindsight, is that I didn't make
better use of my time. Aside from learning how to cook and getting qualified, I didn’t
accomplishing much else (but I had one hell of a time).
After leaving Thornback, I returned to Detroit, went back to Chrysler. Unfortunately,
things were worse in the auto industry than when I left, so I went back to school, and
graduated with a science degree in Business Administration, (majors in Management and
Psychology). I sold my degree to the Ford Mtr Co, where I joined their "graduate" program.
Three years later I was an Automotive (Assembly/Quality) Engineer. For the next five years
I enjoyed an interesting and exciting career; traveling all over the US and Canada, in and
out of the assembly plants, locating and solving problems.
But, alas, things turned bad again in '75 after the first "gas crunch"; with only eight years
seniority, I got bounced when Ford decided to get rid of 10% of their engineering staff (just
like they're doing now). Dumb . . . They spent a lot of money and time on my education.
By that time I had married and had twin sons. I had a year's severance so I wasn't
hurting, but what to do . . . I decided I wasn't going to put my family’s well being and
security at the mercy of anyone (other than myself) and went into business for myself.
I had a varied background in recreation throughout my younger days. I also had an
engineering, mechanical and accounting background as well as good people skills. So
what did I buy? A beautiful 50 acre RV park in central Mich. It was only two years old with
no business to speak of. But it had a great potential. For the next 27 years my wife, sons,
and myself built it into one of Michigan's top parks. "What a time." Tough at first, but fun
and profitable in the long run. It was more like a hobby than work.
We sold it in 2001, moved back to my childhood home in Grosse Pointe (after my mother
died), and spent the next couple of years remodeling the house (circa 1938). We're now
comfortably retired, enjoying good health. We've also been blessed with three little
granddaughters (age 7 and twins 5).
Our current interests: We like to travel (Mich is not always the best place in winter). We
like cruise ships, the Caribbean (I've been an avid scuba diver for 20 years), Colorado
(downhill skiing), and I play at golf (double bogey handicap).
As you can see, I've been very fortunate (and lucky) in my days after Thornback. I’m very
grateful that Pat Gurr has offered me the opportunity to reconnect to the "good old days"
and shipmates aboard Thornback. Email me, I'd be happy to hear from you --
Best wishes and "happy sailing" sailors.