Work in progress
while awaiting life terminus

One's autumnal years bring with them change.   Ambition vanishes, as do friends who pass away.   On retirement, work, central to the earlier existence, is replaced by a void.   One can experiment with activities as varied as woodworking, alcohol, bridge, or gardening.   Not being mutually exclusive, these can be combined as in the often lethal trio of bridge, booze, and the Buick.

As I am transfomed into an octogenarian, I find myself staying off the highway and engaged once more in stamp collecting.   It first fascinated me just after my seventh birthday when I received a small album, a packet of stamps, and hinges with which to adhere them.   The folk wisdom about the aged reverting to childhood suddenly rings true as I lick stamp hinges.

After decades of neglect, my collection swells because of chance and circumstance.  Recently, I acquired from a widow friend the collection of her late husband .  My agreeable task is to bring order out of the chaos of thousands of unclassified specimens.   I find myself wrestling with such arcane matters as the Cyrillic alphabet of Russia, Serbia, and Bulgaria or the size of the perforations at the edges of the stamps measured in number per each two centimeters.

All is not endeavor, however.   I run into many childhood acquaintances among the miniature images: the domed Leopoldstat Basilia across the Danube viewed from Buda to Pest, Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary with his imposing mutton chops, a dark red Mexican airmail of 1934 with a snow-covered volcano flanked in the foreground by an organ cactus and the profile of an Aztec eagle-warrior.

As an adult I remain fascinated by stamps as official art: their content of nationalistic values and pride with a generous seasoning of propaganda.   At age seven I thought of them differently.   They became my window on the world.   My first views of the Egyptian pyramids and the Athenian acropolis were through a magnifying glass.   Kings, queens, emperors and empresses, peasants in regional dress peopled this world.   Chinese junks, sweating steeds, tentative aircraft and puffing trains transported me vicariously around the globe.

Why wasn't I outside playing hide-and-seek or kick-the-can with other children?   At this point in my life I was largely confined to my bed.   Pneumonia had felled and almost finished me because it evolved into empyema, a severe infection of the plural cavity.   The Fates inflicted upon me the double variety meaning that both lungs were affected.   I learned years later that I was the tenth patient with this condition admitted to the Buxton Hospital for treatment, and the first to survive it.   Antibiotics were yet to be discovered. My parents must have laid out my best suit.

This took place in Newport News, Virginia, to which we had arrived the year before from Roanoke, Virginia, where I was born 13 April 1928.

My mother, Mary Octavia Robinson, was from Standardsville, Virginia -- a village in the Blue Ridge Mountains thirty miles north of Charlottesville.   She was born there in 1905 into a family, like most there, of English heritage. Her father, Charles Madison Robinson, was unlike most other men of the time, however, in marrying a divorcee, Mary Octavia Marshall.  To some his behavior must have been thought scandalous, to others merely shocking.  In order to accumulate a nest-egg, they migrated to West Virgina where Charles worked in the coal mines and Mary did heavy housework including meals and laundry for two boarders.

Charles and Mary Octavia Robinson with boarders in West Virginia 1903

On their return to Standardsville they had acumulated enough money to buy farmland and build a house.  By age ten my mother was orphaned along with her little sister Dora, their parents having died of some mysterious malady, or an undiagnosed disease.  Their maternal aunt, Kate Marshall, and her husband, Charles J. Brooking, in nearby Somerset, Virginia, took them in and raised them.  

My father, Reginald Julius Wicke, opened his eyes in 1901 at Whistler, Alabama, a small railroad center north of Mobile.   His father, of second generation German lineage, worked in the shops there which repaired and maintained the rolling stock.

Whistler, Alabama, early 20th century.  My father Reginald sits on the far right,
his brother Edward sits in the center, above him is my grandfather and on the
far left my grandmother Allie.  Next to her is her sister and sister's husband.
Between the two children my great-grandmother Wicke.

My mother and father had met in Birmingham where Mary was doing her first two years of university study at Howard College (present-day Samford College).   Reginald, who went by the name R.J. or simply "Wicke" because he abhorred the name inflicted upon him by his well-meaning parents, was working for the Alabama Light and Power Company.  Having graduated with a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, he was the first in his family to attend college.   To help with his tuition, he joined the Students Army Training Corps along with Claude Pepper, who, later in life, became a US Senator from Florida.   Fortunately for both, World War I ended before they were graduated .   Mary found herself in Birmingham because an uncle, Walter Robinson, had moved there from Standardsville and become a food broker, offered her room, board and tuition expenses.   She, too, was the first in her family to go to college.

Mary had completed two years of study, when R.J. decided to take a job in structural engineering at Virginia Bridge and Iron Company in Roanoke.   They headed north together by train making sure they were not seen boarding it together, sitting in separate cars as the locomotive left the station.   Not until 1976, on the occasion of my father's wake, did Mary tell me the story of their subterfuge.  In vino veritas.

Mary finished her studies at the University of Virginia receiving a B.S. in Education in 1926.  She had stayed with relatives in Charlottesville during the two years.   The University constituted a male dominion at that time and granted the few females degrees in chemistry and education only.  To be near Roanoke and R.J., she took a position at a public school in Bassett, Virginia, known, then as now, for furniture manufacturing.

R. J. and Mary were married in 1927 at the home of Mary's cousin Louise Van Leew in nearby Salem, Virginia. She arrived first and soon thereafter felt panic at the possibily that R. J. had suffered an automobile accident or some other ill fate. Someone prescribed a shot of bourbon to lessen her nervousness which she downed despite her religious affiliation which was Southen Baptist. Of course, R. J. showed up soon after and, therefore, I arrived ten months afterward. I am recorded as doing so in Vol. 1908, File No. 17087 of the state office for vital statistics in Richmond, ergo sum.   Our residence at the time is listed as 604 Carolina Avenue, Roanoke.

A carefully kept Baby Book with a lock of blond hair and numerous photographs indicate that I was well received.   It records my pointing at a buzzard circling the back yard while excitedly shouting the word "airplane."   On being told that an automobile I was watching gleamed because it was new.   I asked, "Did I shine when I was new?" My father referred to me as "the little sheik," after Rudolph Valentino the handsome motion picture idol whose tragic death in 1926 was remembered by all.  Among the pictures in which he starred were "The Sheik" of 1921 and "The Son of the Sheik" of 1926.

In September of 1932 my mother returned to the hospital and came home after a few days with my new baby brother Ralph.  During her pregnancy, she asked me to pray that God would send me a little sister with curly blonde hair like Shirley Temple, the child movie-star.  After much discussion, he was named after the son of family friends: Ralph Long.   An outstanding student at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, athletic, and handsome, Ralph Long's most attractive trait for my father was a commonplace name differentiating it from his own anomalous "Reginald."

Ralph arrived as the financial crises in the U.S. economy -- "The Great Depression" -- hit our family.  Funds for construction of bridges and steel-framed structures were no longer abundant.   The Virginia Bridge Co. cut back gradually to a four-day work week, then three, two, one, and none.

On the following Halloween evening three or four older boys knocked at our door shouting the traditional "trick or treat."   Being without candy or other treats we failed to answer.   There followed a loud thump on the porch.  The "trick," a pumpkin, had spattered there on.   By the following day Mary had produced a tasty treat: a pumpkin pie.

R.J. was reduced to drumming up odd jobs. He painted the exterior of someone's house.  Fortune smiled at him when chosen for jury service. When the trial ended he brought home the green check he received in recompense.  At dinner, he regaled us with details of the trial and the reasons he voted as he did.

Someone asked him to type a letter addressed to President Herbert Hoover proposing a scheme to end the Depression.   It was several pages long and R.J. used his own typewriter.  On presenting his modest bill, he was shocked when his client responded by saying, "This is a depression. I cannot pay.   That was your patriotic duty."

R.J. later joined the C.C.C., the letters standing for Civilian Conservation Corps, a creation of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.   Congress passed the enabling legislation on April 5, 1933.  One signed up for a period of six months to receive 30 dollars per month of which 25 went directly to his family.   R.J. enlisted in the Forestry Service section and did surveying in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park near Bristol, Tennessee.   C.C.C. organization followed that of the military as did living arrangement.   Members slept in barracks or in tents.   The food was good, but later in life R.J. would repeat the cook's motto: "There is no tough meat, only dull knives."

I was left at home with only Mother and little Ralph, who was stil nursing.   Father was not too far away and would visit on an occasional weekend. At Christmas he brought home a tree and modest presents.

We had moved to a house at 217 Virginia Ave.   For a boy the location could not have been improved on: a firehouse sat directly across the street.   I soon got to know the fire-chief there, Captain Mills. Sometimes he would lift me up to the level of the fire engine siren from where I could grasp the crank handle and exert enough strength to produce the purr of a kitten.   The even greater thrill was to go upstairs where the firemen slept and ride down the pole to ground level while held in the elbow of one of the men and land on the giant rubber dough-nut at the base.  

My proudest moment among the firemen came to pass on June 15, 1934.  On the previous day I had predicted the winner of the world heavyweight championship fight between Max Bear and Primo Carnera to take place that evening in Long Island City, New York.   The fight between Max Bear, the relatively small American vs. the 280 pound Italian Carnera had generated great excitement.   During my visit that day the firemen were laying bets with one another.   One of them asked me, "Who's going to win Bear or Carnera."   Because I knew what a bear was and had seen and heard a neighbor's canary I figured that a bear could defeat a bird. The fireman assuming that out of the mouths of babes came wisdom bet on Max.   My prediction came true that night as Graham McNamee called the fight.  In round eleven, after suffering ten knockdowns the "Giant with Feet of Clay" was counted out.  My reward came the next day, in the form of a Dixie cup of vanilla ice cream which I savored with its flat wooden spatula.

Max Bear defeats Primo Carnera, Long Island Ciy, New York, June 14, 1934

We must have left Roanoke some weeks later given that in September I enrolled in the John W. Daniel school in Newport News, Virginia.

My father had obtained work at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company.   The recently elected President Franklin Roosevelt had seen the need for a strengthening of naval forces in the Pacific and a new fighting ship was evolving: the aircraft carrier.

R. J. had proceeded us.   Mary, baby Ralph, and preschooler Charles joined him via the Norfolk and Western rail line. R.J. had rented a unit in the Stratford Apartments: a four-floor walkup with a view of the James River and the shipyard.  I was fascinated as the ships anchored offshore danced a precision ballet turning in perfect unison.  This puzzled me greatly until I learned of tides.

The shipyard operated 24 hours a day.  From our bedroom my brother Ralph and I could hear the constant ratatatat of the riveting as steel plates became part of the hull and its sound became our lullaby.   Three of the carriers built by the shipyard -- "Hornet," ",Yorktown," and "Enterprise" -- were destined to play a crucial role in the "Battle of Midway Island" (4 - 7 June, 1942) that turned the tide against the Japanese in the Pacific.

"Enterprise" and "Yorktown" under construction
at Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock
Company, 8 February 1937.

I was most fortunate in having as my first teacher a kind and sweet lady named Miss Jarman who would give us a hug once in a while.   I liked my classmates, too.   As it was a public school I came in contact with a social spectrum that included children who had no shoes as well as many classmates from the middle class.

On a Sunday morning of the following February I awoke to find myself unable to crawl out of bed and too weak to speak above a whisper.   Our family physician, Dr. Walker, was called.   After his cursory examination, I was rushed to the Buxton Hospital and immediately placed in an oxygen tent: a cube-shaped affair of green rubber and an isinglass window where one could peek in from the front.  To the rear I could hear the clatter of a large container being filled with ice to lessened the odor of the oxygen.

My diagnosis was soon changed from the initial one of pleurisy to double empyema: an infection that filled both lung cavities with pus.   Dr. Walker, thought the case was hopeless.   Given Walker's insistence that nothing could or should be done, an intern, a Dr. White, who had been present at the examination felt compelled to break the rules by telephoning my father.   White told him that surgery was the only hope of saving my life.   R.J. called the owner, director and head surgeon of the hospital, Dr. Joseph Buxton, and asked him to take charge.  My life I owe to the courage of intern White.

I was witness to the operation as my lungs were in no condition to handle ether. Only local anesthesia could be employed.   As I was wheeled toward the operating room R. J. walked beside me and whispered, "You are going to be all right."   I believed him even though he must have thought that this could be good-by forever.

My face was covered by a sheet under which the O.R. nurse peeked at me now and then with a concerned look.   The pus in the left lung was so thick that it necessitated a piece of rib on my back be cut out.

After the surgery I required a blood transfusion.   A coworker of my father with the required type offered to be the donor.   We lay side by side on two gurneys as I received new life from him.   Afterwards, he told me, "You have German blood from your dad and Scotch-Irish from your mom.   And now you have some Irish blood, too."

I remained in the hospital for two months of treatment and recuperation.   Two special nurses were hired to look after me working on twelve-hour shifts.   Miss Farnham and Miss Ward had to turn me as I was too weak to move.   They read to me Laura Lee Hope's "The Bobsey Twins at the Sea Shore," and others in the series as well as another featuring "Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue." Patricia Lauber's "Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates" I found difficult to identify with given his prowess in skating along the frozen canals of Holland.  My two nurses seemed to me as angels.   Young Dr. White, the intern, obviously shared my opinion of Miss Farnham as he soon married her.  Misses Farnham and Ward left me with an admiration of their profession which I continue to hold.

My mother read to me, too.   My father would visit after work bringing along my three year old brother.   When little Ralph became bored and wished to go home he would pick up R. J.'s hat and jump up and down trying to give it to him.   In retrospect, it seems unfair for the smallest child of the family not to receive the most parental attention.   I'm afraid that my illness robbed Ralph of his entitlement.

My birthday was celebrated in my hospital room with a small cake holding seven candles, but I was not allowed to have a taste.   Some days later, however, I became able enough to digest a small bowl of oatmeal: the most wonderful breakfast of my life.  A second indication of my recovery was a trip to the sun room where one could look out on the glitter of Hampton Roads and meet fellow patients.   The story of my survival had been passed along to them and being the smallest among them I was treated like a mascot.  They even convinced me that my riddles were fresh and unknown to them.   "Why does the chicken cross the road?"   "For some fowl reason."

Elisabeth Buxton Hospital
The upper storey carries a sun room facing Hampton Roads

When I left the hospital, spring had begun and the trees were green.  I had just turned seven.   A family friend took us home and my father carried me up the four flights to our apartment with ease.   I weighed a mere thirty-five pounds.

Not wanting to fall behind my class I asked my mother to intervene with the principal to allow me to study and catch up.   Since she had teaching experience he gave his approval.  She taught me more than the required lessons. As she placed on my window sill two cigar boxes half filled with soil she said, "I want you to know how plants grow."  With that she placed in my hand cotton and pansy seeds.  I planted and watered them.  Soon, tiny leaves greeted me one morning when I awakened.   Bright many-colored flowers followed along with balls of cotton.   I had observed a miracle.

A second activity during my recovery, philately, occupied me as well.

Gradually I put on weight, learned to walk again, and daily life returned to normal. It was thought at the time that sunbathing was theraputic.  Therefore, we spent several hours out on our small balcony where I studied.  I also thumbed through the pages of the latest "Silver Screen" magazine to which mother subscribed.

Dr. White, the courageous intern, and Nurse Farnham my mother invited to a celebratory dinner. Not only did we celebrate my recovery, but their engagement. While saving my life, they fell in love.  As usual when guests were entertained Lynhaven Bay oysters were served which R. J. shucked and Mary fried.  As was his custom R. J. decorated each oyster on his plate with a festive topping of bright red ketchup.

The following September, I reentered school.   Rather than joining the friends I had made in first-grade, I was assigned to another section, that of problem students and slow learners.  Apparently the principal had decided that given my long absence and home study I required special help.

My dedicated teacher, Miss Moore, who wore a brown dress that covered her ankles, seemed to me an ancient phantom from her mountain of gray-hair to her high button shoes.   The Civil War remained close in her memory: obviously a Daughter of the Confederacy, she had achieved school-wide fame by refusing to let the name of Abraham Lincoln pass her lips when teaching American history -- no easy task, if true.   She was especially nice to me, given my frailty and my motivation for learning as contrasted with most of her regular students.

Motivation paid off.  The following semester I happily rejoined my friends from my original first grade class.

In the fourth grade I noticed some difficulty in reading the black board.  To overcome this I discovered that I could bend light like a pin-hole camera.  By joining my thumbs and forefingers to form a tiny ace of diamonds hole, I could peer through and obtain a clearer image.   During the year an eye test was given to the class and I was unable to use my finger camera.   I was pronounced near-sighted and sent to White's Optical shop whose motto was "You can't be optimistic with misty optics."  After picking up my glasses I walked out into the street and looked at the rows of sycamore trees lining the street.   Atop the trees I could discern individual leaves for the first time dancing in the slight breeze.   Another miracle!

The transformation was not without a price, however.   The lenses were of fragile, dangerous glass.  Before I had them I could not see well enough to play baseball or sand-lot football.   Now that my vision had improved I remained sidelined not only because of my frailty, but that of the glasses.

At this juncture I hit upon boxing, a sport in which one was face-to-face with an opponent, so close that lenses were not needed.   A couple of older neighborhood boys who owned gloves and a much thumbed book on the sport were of great help.   Through them I met a fellow who claimed to have had a short career as a professional pugilist.  He taught me not to step backward, but to one side, to block a hook by raising the forearm to the level of the head.   In difficult moments, one could spit in the face of the opponent to loosen his composure.  When in danger of being knocked down one should fall backward on his own. This advice proved to be sound in practice.

Although my glasses had curtailed my sports, they sharpened the motion pictures. On Saturday mornings one headed for the ¨"Street of Dreams." This was three blocks of Washington Avenue holding four movie houses.   Plunking down a dime at the Warwick Theater allowed a frail child to enter a heroic world of daring deeds amid perfidy.   The feature film was invariably a "cowboy or wild west show" starring Buck Jones, Hoot Gibson, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry or Johnny McBrown, whom R.J. had known at the University of Alabama.  Accompanying this fare was the episode of a "serial," perhaps Buck Rogers in contest with the evil oriental-featured Ming - or Tarzan lording it over benighted Africans.   But first came the Kiddie Club.  At center stage a contemporary would belt out favorites of the moment: "On the Good Ship Lollipop", invariably sung by a Shirley Temple look-alike rubbing her midsection while phrasing ". . . or you'll get a tummy ache," or Red Sails in the Sunset, rendered perhaps by a lad who demonstrated difficulty in reaching the low notes.

The more sophisticated fare at the Paramount Theater attracted an older audience with a higher ratio of girls.   Here one could see, for example, the "Road" pictures of Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour, as in "The Road to Zanzibar" (1941) and "The Road to Morocco" (1942). 

Paramount Theater 1955

The live entertainment before the picture was more sophisticated, too.  As the lights went down, the faint notes could be heard as if in the distance.  The music gradually increased.  as the organ slowly rose from the pit, music matching movement.  As if by magic, spotlights popped on, their beams lighting upon the slight musician and mistress of ceremony at the console.   She accompanied the singer soloists on the sonorous pipe organ.  Her name: Gladys Lyle.

Once a year the live magic show with Harry Blackstone, Sr., played at the Paramount.  Each year I happily answered his challenge for a member of audience to come forward and witness his skills up close.  My intention was to unmask Blackstone's secrets. How naive of me! He befuddled me making handkerchiefs and balls disapper in a way that was obvious to his audience, and made me look like an idiot.  The organ background that Gladys rendered added so much to the show that one year Harry persuaded her to go with him on the road: a real road.  And so she left us, and things were never the same.

At the other end of the strip the James Theater competed with the Warwick for the young viewer.  Here was experienced The Popeye Club, with the theme song "I'm Popeye the Sailor Man" and a Max Fleisher Thimble Theater Popeye cartoon with its feature.   Before the films it offered the usual singers interspersed with boxing matches between volunteer pugilists who, like the vocalists, received a free admission ticket for their performance.

The remaining cinema, the Palace, had no children's show, but depended on higher quality MGM movies to attract an older audiences.  Shirley Temple, the most famous female in the world, starred there in pictures with the word "little" in their titles: In 1935, The Little Colonel and The Littlest Rebel; and in 1939, The Little Princess.  Members of the NNHS Class of 1945 identified with the cute curly-head as being of the same age: someone they grew up with.

Indeed, as we left childhood we gave up the Warwick and the James for the Paramount and the Palace.  Putting aside childish things, we began to wrestle with the mysteries of puberty.   Glandular changes produced new and mysterious longings.

The silver screen came to the rescue with a timely series of motion pictures that dealt with our problems.  Offering us didactic vicarious experiences at the Palace were the Andy Hardy films, considered by their producer, Louis B. Mayer, as his contribution to the strengthening of America's family values.

As adolescents we perceived the Hardy films differently from Mayer's intent.  Girls on observing the female leads saw the growing power of their newfound nubility.  Boys readily identified with Mickey Rooney's bumbling approach to dreamlike, chaste, co-stars such as Kathryn Grayson, Judy Garland, and Ann Rutherford in pictures with descriptive titles such as: Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever (1939); Andy Hardy Meets a Debutante (1940); and Andy Hardy's Private Secretary (1941).  Lewis Stone played Judge Hardy, the sagacious father, whose "man-to-man" talks invariably resolved each impasse of Andy's misadventures with worldly ladies.  Oh that we could have fathers as understanding as Judge Hardy.  Or that a boy could have a girlfriend as lovely as Judy Garland or Kathryn Grayson.

And then came that grand moment of revelation and, perhaps, confusion; an instant when life imitates art.  The fortuitous event came to pass on January 10, 1942.  Our freshman class had entered high school in September of 1941 a few weeks before.   On the following Friday afternoon the school newspaper for which I later wrote the weekly humor column, The Beacon, carried the headlines "Mickey Rooney Weds former NNHS Student."

A future member of the class of 1945 had to wonder who was the girl-wife of the story, Ava Gardner?  She was a member of the class that had graduated the previous year.  The older Potter girl, Virginia, the cheerleader, was her friend and had visited her in California -- she knew and could tell us. And she did.

Ava had arrived from Smithfield, North Carolina, with her mother and father, but soon after, father abandoned them.  Mother had to support herself and daughter by running a boarding house.  Ava had dated older, and presumably more sophisticated "apprentice boys" from the local shipyard.  In Hollywood she was working as a Goldwyn Girl while taking speech lessons in order to erase her southern accent.  Sam Goldwyn wanted to cast her in speaking parts.  But now Mickey Rooney -- Andy Hardy -- had married the beautiful girl next door, next door to us.

What was real and what was fantasy in all this?  As we viewed Ava's magnificent face in wide-screen color close-ups over the years and followed her stormy career, broken marriages, bouts with alcohol, those questions remained unanswered.  Fact?  Fiction?  Obviously, those things that once had seemed to us simple and romantic on our Street of Dreams were more complex.

Newport News High School

How blessed were members of the class of 1945 Newport News High School with excellent teachers.  They were the silver lining of the clouds of the Great Depression.   In more prosperous times many would have been sought by industry, commerce, and the arts.  Susie Floyd, who taught science, drove me and two other members her science class in her little automobile 80 miles north to attend the meetings of the Virginia Academy of Science.  I understood little of the conference presentations, only that science appeared to be important and interesting.

Gladyes Gamble, who taught English, impressed us with her sophistication. A New Yorker, she spoke of intellectual life in the big city: writers and book publishing.  For our writing she stressed the use of concrete verbs rather than "to be" and the active voice rather than the passive.

Our physics teacher was an elderly female physician: Cornelia Segar, M.D.   It was rumored that she had lost her life savigs in the Depression and had been forced by fate to find work.   Although rather deaf she was an excellent teacher.   To explain concepts she sought graphic examples that could be remembered.   For the principle of stability, she sought the help of Hasting Hawk largest boy on the football team:"If a player on the opposing team tried to push you over, how would you respond?" At low volume, that she would not hear he answered, "I'd knee him in the nuts."  "That's right," she replied with a smile, "you would separate your feet to broaden your base and crouch down to lower your center of gravity."  Should a student come up with the answer to a problem with only a number without the unit of measure, she would ask, "One thousand and fifty-four what? Chipmunks?"  She read us fan mail from former students thanking her for the useful knowledge she had imparted: inclined planes, pulleys, levers, optics, and convection currents.   Many were written by boys then serving in the armed forces.

Classes were large by today's standards: around forty students.  Given our gifted teachers, this seems to have made little difference in our learning.  Of those class members that I have kept up with many have had distinguished careers.  Fred Field, my best school friend, became an electronics engineer, Stella Bicouvaris a physician and professor, Nelson Overton, a judge and Herbert Bateman, a member of the U. S. Congress representing the first district of Virgina.

I would have learned more physics and Latin had I not been distracted by girls in sweaters, pleated skirts, white bobby socks, and saddle Oxfords.  As a mere freshman I was enchanted by the junior and senior class girls not only because of their beauty, but for their relative sophistication.

For the school newspaper I wrote a humorous gossip column which often zeroed in on the individual characteristics of my fellows.  I am sorry that at times I could be unkind.

On belatedly learning one day that Joseph Hofmann -- the great Polish-American pianist -- was to give a concert in the High School auditorium that evening, I called home to let my mother know that I would not return home until that evening.   With no money for a ticket, I stayed in the building after school let out, entered the auditorium and hid there until I could mingle with the music lovers as they began to arrive.  At the end of the marvelous performance, I found a program left on a seat, went backstage, and asked Hofmann for an autograph.  On thanking him, we shook hands.  I could not help myself from glancing at his hands.  This verified for me what I had heard: his fingers appeared too short for the demands of the piano.   His piano was custom made with narrow keys.

Port cities tend to offer more variety than land-locked ones and Newport News was no exception.  Greeks, Italians, Germans, European Jews, and, for us in high school, their children added to the mix.   In general, they studied harder than those of us born in the United States.  Negro children went a to separate school. This was accepted as part of the normal order of things by white children.

In retrospect, it seems strange that Whites treated Blacks almost as non-humans.   After all, religiosity was rampant in the southern states.   For Christians the message of Jesus was to love one another.  For the Wickes, as for everyone we knew the Saturday night ritual was to take a bath and shine our shoes in preparation for Sunday school and church service.  The church organ bursting forth with Bach's church music could be the first live music heard by a child.

Methodist teachings came from the English theologian John Wesley. He held that one's first obligation was to others.

Our little family often walked a few blocks to observe the port of Newport News in action.  Coal from the mines of West Virginia was emptied from railroad cars directly into the hatches of ships bound for Europe.  Other ships carried scrap iron to Japan.   It was loaded by cranes equipped with giant electromagnets.   Although we knew it not at the time, this was destined for the Japanese war machine.   Ironically, the activity was taking place less than a mile from another: the building of the aircraft carriers at the shipyard.

Our high school years were the war years: 1941 to 45.  At the very moment Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese, like the United States I was sound asleep.   December 7, 1941 was a Sunday.  At 5:30 that morning, as usual, I awakened to the clang of an alarm clock and headed out to deliver the Richmond Times Dispatch as I did each day come rain or shine, snow or hail.  I had not realized that by doing so I had joined the exclusive fraternity of the paper boys.  In later years I discovered that in any social group of contemporaries one could encounter other males who delivered papers and collected for them on Saturday and who love to swap stories of their adventures in doing so.  All of us seemed to have learned about class and caste, generosity and the tight fist, honesty and deceit, in addition to the Protestant work ethic.

I made up for my loss of sleep with a Sunday afternoon nap and thus was the last in the neighborhood to learn that the world had changed that day.

Throughout the war, R.J. worked overtime at the shipyard.   He would come home for dinner and return to his drawing board for two or three more hours.  Understandably,I saw little of him during those years.  Ration-books were issued to allow the purchase of scarce items such as sugar, shoes, and gasoline.

A year before war broke out in Europe with the German invasion of Poland my father purchased his first automobile: a 1940 model Plymouth four-door.  We had moved to a neighborhood one block from Buxton Hospital and three miles from downtown.  I entered a new school the following fall: Woodrow Wilson.

With the car we could now take vacations far from home.   On our first summer vacation we headed south to Mobile to visit my paternal grandmother via Atlanta and Tallahassee.  In Georgia we viewed the unfinished, yet imposing, Confederate Memorial Monument on Stone Mountain that depicts three Confederate heroes of the Civil War, President Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson.  On the wharfs of Mobile I learned how banana boats from Central America were unloaded.  Lines of black men each of whom picked up and carried a heavy bunch on his back to an assigned railroad box car.  The destination of the box car was matched to the ripeness of the fruit.  A square of colored paper was handed to the carrier as he picked up the next bunch.   He then knew where to convey it as each box car had been assigned its individual color.

Grandmother served us grits with our breakfast eggs and started each lunch with gumbo soup.  Both seemed exotic.  The okra in the gumbo was my first.

My father's youngest brother, Julius, taught me the game of chess.  I listened to Paul Whiteman records by winding-up the victrola and dropping a cactus needle on the disk.

The following summer we headed north.  In state and national parks we slept in two pup-tents into which fitted sleeping-bags with air mattress ordered by mail from L. L. Bean of Freeport, Maine.  Ralph and I shared one and our parents the other.

My first glimpse of the lights of New York skyline came as Ralph and I peeked out of our tent.  We had pitched it on the campgrounds of the Palisades Interstate Park in New Jersey on a precipice as high above the Hudson River as the Washington Monument we had viewed days earlier.

Being that skyscrapers are best viewed from afar Manhattan's marvels captivated and hypnotized us.  For a five-cent nickel one could go anywhere on any of the subway lines.   I could have spent the entire day looking at the exotic and sophisticated people carried by the cars.   Times Square beckoned.  From there a double-decker tour bus conveyed us to Mott Street and Chinatown and to Wall Street and the Battery.  As we entered an Italian neighborhood, we viewed the laundry drying outside apartment window.  The vista inspired our tour guide to shout, "What you see today they'll wear tomorrow."   I vowed to return and spend more time in the Big City.

Continuing north we learned how marble is quarried in Vermont and how lobster is eaten in Maine.   There we toured the L. L. Bean store in Freeport and camped in Bar Harbor.  A park ranger took us on a boat to an offshore island.   While there he reached into a hole in the ground and, like a magician, brought a bird in the had worth more than two in a bush.  Birds build nests in trees and would fly away if held in a hand, but this one seemed unique.  The ranger said it was called a Leache's Petrel.

With his new car my father could better indulge his passion: the Civil War. His bookcases held fat volumes illustrated by Brady's photos of the War and the many books penned by the prolific author Douglas Southall Freeman among them four-volume biography of Robert E. Lee and he three-volume Lee's Lieutenants: A Study in Command.  Fortress Monroe rests at the southern tip of the Virginia Peninsula.  It remained in Union hands throughout the War.  Years passed before they reached their goal of raching Richmond.   Newport News lay nearby. My father would take me along in the car as he explored the battlefields around Williamsburg.   He mapped the embankments which he called "readouts" and, after asking permission from a farmer who owned or worked land on the battlefield, walked slowly between the rows of corn as we searched for lead bullets, buttons, and belt-buckles.

On a weekend in 1940 we drove to Manassas, Virginia, near Washington, for the inauguration of the Manassas National Battlefield Park established to preserve the scene of two major Civil War battles in 1861 and 1862.  Douglas Southall Freeman presided over the ceremonies. He introduced, among others, three old men who had served in the Confederate Army as drummer boys.  One had joined the army at ten years of age.   Freeman himself was the son of a Confederate solder.

My father had corresponded with Freeman relative to the number and location of redoubts, but his shyness probably prevented his approaching him on this occasion.

I do believe that my father would have been more content with his life had he become a historian.

Newport News main street Washington Avenue

Occasionally, R. J. would drive us to Richmond some 60 miles north. Rather than taking the main highway with a speed limit of 55 miles per hour, however, he preferred the back roads along the James River where plantation mansions were located. His favorite was Shirley located about halfway on our journey. Built by slave-holders John Carter and his wife Elizabeth from 1723 to 1738 it still belongs to the Carter family.  It featured two-storey porticoes "And,"my father would add,"it was the childhood home of Robert E. Lee's mother, Ann Hill Carter."

Summers during World War II I worked to aid the war effort and from my earnings purchase war bonds.  My first employment was with the Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation or HRPE.   Along with several high-school companions I attended classes after our regular lessons to learn how to become a hatch checker.  Our instructors were draftees who had been professionals as civilians.  My wages of 72 cents and hour seemed a bonanza.  Every time the minute hand went around I had made more than a cent.

Fore, aft, port, and starboard we marked down on our tally sheets as we counted the numbers of canned goods or artillery shells being lifted from the docks and lowered into the hatch of a Liberty Ship.   Most of the forces that conducted the North African campaign had sailed from our HRPE. Various full-time regular workers recounted that General Patton had made sure that his personal tank had been lowered down the hatch without a scratch.  They attested that he did so with bravura and profanity.

By the time I arrived there shiploads of war prisoners from North Africa were debarking: German and Italian soldiers some with Alpine caps and thumping hob-nailed boots.   During a break from work I traded Wing brand cigarettes purchased at ten cents a pack with the soldiers for exotic coins of indeterminate value, buttons, and stamps.  These I exchanged through a wire fence until a US soldier guarding the prisoners halted the illicit commerce.

Later I mentioned my adventure to a WAC (Womens Army Corps) who interviewed an Italian high ranking prisoners as they landed.   An Italian Army general asked to be placed under the care of his sister in Brooklyn, given his delicate digestive system.

The prisoners arrived on a British ocean liner converted to troop carrier the "Empress of Japan."

"Empress of Japan"

It was so fast that rather than sail in a convoy it traveled alone.  After taking soldiers to North Africa it brought captives to the United States on return.  On the dock I ran into a couple of boys who worked on the ship.   They were younger than I, probably sixteen.  One gave me a tour of the ship during my lunch time.  On hatch covers large Japanese characters had been painted.   I knew they were Japanese because of my stamp collecting.  My tour guided explained that the previous name of the ship had been "Empress of Japan." Part of the Canadian Pacific Line before the war when the sun never set on the British Empire, it plied between Vancouver on the west coast of Canada and the Orient.  Obviously, a ship bearing the name of the enemy would have been embarrassing to the British. Changing it would have gone against the ancient and honored belief of sailors that ill fortune would surely follow.   To do so was against wartime regulations as well. How then had the transformation come about?   Apparently, only an order from Winston Churchill could bring it about.

Before sailing away the boys offered to stow me away with the assurance that my presence would upset no one.  I declined, graciously thanking them, I trust.  Had I accepted their offer I would not have been the first Wicke stowaway.  Family tradition recounts that our original Wicke ancestor stowed away by hiding in a high coil of rope on the deck of a ship leaving Hamburg, avoiding, thereby, the Franco-Prussian War.

Two other summers I worked at the local shipyard at 68 cents an hour: one summer as a machinist helper and the other as an electrician helper.  On my first day at work my foreman met me and directed me to a lathe.  "Do you know what this is?" he queried.  "No, sir." I admitted. "Good. In that case I don't have to deal with any misconceptions you might have had," he replied.  How diplomatic, how kind of him, I felt.

Each workday morn I waited at the bus stop for the three mile ride to the yard.  The fare: five cents.  One had to punch the time clock before 8 AM. At 4 o'clock we returned the same way, the bus now smelling of sweat and grease.  The route took us through the "colored section" where the Negro workers got off.   On the bus they were segregated despite having to pay an equal fare.  Whites to the front, coloreds to the rear was the rule.  Only once did I hear words of protest: from the rear came the lament in a deep voice, "Just 'cause a man's ass is black, he has to ride on the axle."

At the time I had known only two black people: Mary, a woman who came to the apartment to do some ironing on Saturday, and Lawrence, who cut my hair.  I knew not their last names nor, it seems, did any other white person.  When I had my first haircut after leaving the hospital in my seventh year, Lawrence told me, "We was all pulling for you."  I did not know what this meant, but I was struck by its sincerity.

On the job I got to know my fellow workers and learned from them. With the electricians time passed more quickly as we could chat, share opinions and swap jokes as we worked.  I liked them.   Later in life, given this experience I was baffled in reading Karl Marx's opinion about the nobility of the working class.  After investigating I discovered that Marx had never known a worker.  Apparently, I was one up on Uncle Karl.

As my high school days ended the war in the European Theater came to a close.  Nevertheless, the war in the Pacific continued.   Given the tenacity of the Japanese forces it was generally believed that a long bloody conquest island by island was in store for the Allies.

This scenario prompted me to enter the University of Virginia immediately in the summer session and thereby be exempt from the draft when I turned eighteen.   Reginald and Mary drove me to Charlottesville and settled me in a room on East Range, part of the original construction by Thomas Jefferson.  Classes started and I settled into the daily routine.  I lunched at a nearby boarding house.  Discussions at the table covered a range of topics from Freud to to physics.  On one of my forays into an argument an older student declared that the argument I had put forward was "sophomoric."  I had never heard the word but it delighted me as I was only a freshman.

My moment of real triumph at the boarding house table came after a letter I had sent to Life Magazine was published.   It commented on a picture in a previous issue showing a man kissing a woman while wearing a hat.  I wrote, "Here in the land of the Virginia Gentleman your picture of a man kissing a woman while wearing a hat was greeted with weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth."  A small copy of the offending picture was appended.  One of my professors had used this biblical quotation in a lecture. On of the senior members at the table had brought along a copy of the magazine and read my letter aloud to all.  Laughter followed. He asked if any one knew the writer.   On learning it was I, his facial expression mirrored incredulity. As an added reward I received several letters from nearby girl schools in praise of it.

On August 6, 1945, only a few weeks after I had enrolled, the radio reported that Hiroshima had been destroyed by an atomic bomb.  A what?  Something never dreamed of. A second bomb was released over Nagasaki on August 9. Japanese surrender followed on August 15. The War was over.  I no longer had to worry about the draft.

The student body of the University consisted overwhelmingly of white males.  The few females enrolled were limited to those seeking A B.S. degree in education or chemistry.  The School of Nursing at University Hospital as well as nearby all female schools like Mary Baldwin failed to balance the sexual ratio.

Social pressure, which came not only from the older students, but from the faculty as well, meant a dress code: coat and tie, plus a hat for freshmen.  The students divided themselves into fraternity members and non-members.  These associations were unofficially ranked along class lines.  The most prestigious recruited only FFV's -- those belonging to First Families of Virginia: Carters, Madisons, Lees, Byrds as well as the old moneyed wealthy.  Jews were accepted only by the two Jewish fraternities. Many freshmen, myself included, joined none.

My next door neighbor, J. Tobias "Toby" Kaufman, became my best friend.  His room contained a rented piano and a huge confederate flag on the wall.  The flag held no meaning for us other than adding a festive air to the room.  Toby became a research scientist at the National Institutes of Health where he carried out significant research on enzymes.

The scene underwent a dramatic transformation the following September of 1946.   Millions who had fought in the war had been ushered out of the services.   These were offered free education in legislation that became known as the G. I. Bill of Rights.  Those that took advantage of this opportunity tended to be older and more mature than those students who had enrolled directly after finishing high school.  Many had wives and children.

I was assigned a room-mate whereas I had a private room the previous year.  Joe Clancy had served as a machine-gunner on the European front.   He limped from having suffered trench-foot.  Even in summer he had to wear woolen socks to soften his steps.   Each morning he grabbed a cigarette on awaking.  Then he opened his eyes.

He spoke little of the war. He mentioned that it was impossible to keep one's feet dry which led to trench-foot.  Nevertheless, some officers accused those who limped of being slackers.  He added that to be able to move fast on facing the enemy the infantrymen threw away most of their equipment including gas masks and that on one occasion when he had a lone German soldier in the sight of his machine gun he took pity on the defenseless enemy and allowed him run away.

Given our differences in life experiences, Clancy must have thought me puerile.  If so, he was right.

My social life in Charlottesville centered on the Methodist Church and at the University on the YMCA.  The latter is verified by a notice in the Suffolk News-Herald of September 14, 1946:

Stephen D. Carnes of Suffolk has been elected president of the University of Virginia's Young Men Christian Association, the oldest college YMCA in the country, and will head up the organization during the University's 125th session, which will open on Sept. 30. Vesper services are being conducted in the University chapel by a student committee under joint chairmanship of Carnes and Charles Wicke of Newport News.

This seemed to me fitting as from childhood I had attended church each Sunday with my parents.   I believed in doing to others as I wished them to treat me and I believed in charity, abstinence and virginity.  On graduation day just after turning twenty I must have been the only one in the 1948 class who remained both a virgin and a teetotaler.

My parents had driven to Charlottesville for my graduation.  The ceremony was held out of doors on the University "lawn" -- the term that substituted for "campus" as in other schools and Harvard's "yard."  Seated only a few feet from the platform of dignitaries, I could not take my eyes off the University Rector and former Secretary of State, Edward R. Stettinius.  His snow-white hair and coal-black eyebrows were set off by a red face.  "It must be high blood-pressure," I thought.  He died shortly after at forty-nine.

Also on the dais was Admiral William F. Halsey who had retired from the navy the previous year.   He had become chairman of the University fund raising campaign.  His relationship with the institution went back to 1899 when he had entered medical school.  He was destined to die soon after on 20 August 1959.

I had majored in biology as a pre-med student with the intention of becoming a physician.  On my graduation I had been accepted by the University of Virginia Medical School.

The summer before entering Medical School I spent in New York where I worked at the Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital on the upper west side of Manhattan.  The Hospital had developed a program for pre-med students that would introduce them to what it is to work on the wards.   We were called Ward Assistants and numbered about twenty.  We soon learned how to take a patient's pulse, blood-pressure, and temperature readings as well as to make beds.

I had returned to the Big Apple and this time without my parents.  I was free to explore its wonders.   From 165th and Broadway I could hop aboard the A Train and for a nickel go anywhere in the city.   On a day off I headed to the south Bronx and Yankee Stadium.   My cheap ticket placed me in center-field from where I could almost touch Joe Dimaggio.   I could watch Yogi Berra catching behind the plate and see Bobby Brown studying his medical textbooks.  I heard years later that at the end of the season Yogi asked Brown how his book turned out.

I thought it odd as I looked around me that I was seated near some well dressed men who, from their appearance, surely could have purchased tickets behind home plate.   By the second inning some had removed their shirts and were sunbathing.  That explains it I thought.  They wish to relax in a more informal way than they could have in the more expensive seats.   By the later innings I had perceived that they were betting among themselves.  I could hear them proposing fanciful odds.  With two outs would the runner on first make it to third base. Ten dollars says he will to your five that he won't.

The Metropolitan Museum beckoned as well.   Entry was free and it was practically empty on week days.   Rembrandt I had heard of, but Frans Hals I had not.   Up close Hals brushwork seemed lackadaisical, but by stepping backward I could view his portraits miraculously transformed into self confident Dutch merchants and their wives.

On Sundays the Museum became crowded. I heard the following conversation there on a Sunday afternoon.  Son: "Dad, this must be a picture of Jesus."  Dad: "No, can't you read? It's Rex Mundi."

Washington Square on Sunday attracted both chess- and guitar-players.  The chess-players studied the sixty-four small squares before them undisturbed by the heartfelt lyrics of "Freiheit" or the children kicking balls and chasing pigeons.

Union Square on 14th Street became alive each evening.  Orators praised the Soviet Union, allied with us against fascist Germany and Italy. The Daily Worker was published nearby.  Not all the voices came from the left, any one could speak about any thing.  Those who had discovered the meaning of it all and wished to share it could find a small audience there.

Times Square beckoned at night.   For the price of a beverage one could see and hear the greatest jazz musicians in the world.   The Metronome featured the Red Norvo Trio. Norvo's Vibrafone could be heard by all who strolled along the east side of Broadway near 44th Street.   At a new venue called Bop City I caught Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden   As I climbed the stairs that led up to Bop City, I was thinking it odd that these traditional jazz men were booked at a place bearing a name derived from Bee-bop.   But there the two old-timers were with a young and talented bassist.  They were finishing a set.  Armstrong was sweating and moving a giant white handkerchief from trumpet to his face and back again.  It was hard to believe that I was seeing them and hearing them play the old standard "Do You Know what it Means to Miss New Orleans?"

After their set had finished, a musician of whom I had never heard was introduced to loud applause.  Obviously, this was the group that the, to me, sophisticated audience had come to see: George Shearing and his quintet.   He came to his grand piano wearing dark glasses arm-in-arm with a young lady that Shearing introduced as Margie Hyams.  She played vibraphone along with a drummer, guitarist and bassist.  What is their relationship, I wondered.  To present themselves as so close together must mean something.  I was probably the only one there that did not know that Shearing was blind.   Still none of us knew that he soon would compose the jazz standard "Lullaby of Birdland" or that years later he would be knighted.  With great animation Shearing produced incredible music as he smiled and moved his head to one side and the other.

In the fall I returned to Charlottesville as a member of the first year class in the School of Medicine.  Having completed my college courses in three years I was among the youngest of the class.  I did well in my first semester, but by the second I had lost interest in my studies.   No longer on East Range but assigned a room far from my few friends, I had become reclusive and depressed.  Just as Admiral Halsey fifty years before, I had learned was that medicine was not for me;I lacked the temperment. My romantic idea of becoming a medical missionary to Korea I derived from the sponsor of the Methodist Youth Group, who had been a missionary. I was certain that God would see me through.   Daydreaming instead of studying, I was unprepared for final examinations. God had failed to help me.

After a short visit with my parents in Newport News, I returned to New York and Columbia-Presbyterian desirous of helping my fellow man as an orderly.  The job entitled me to live rent-free in an old building belonging to the Columbia Presbyterian complex at 165th and Riverside Drive. Some referred to it as "The Abandoned Insane Asylum." Whether this designation was historically accurate it was what New York social climbers call "a good address" and from the third and top floor, to which I was assigned, a spectacular view appeared just after sunset.  One could see the lights of the George Washington Bridge 14 blocks to the north as well as those of Fort Lee, New Jersey, on the other side of the Hudson River.

After settling in, I enrolled in art classes at the Art Students League.

From the Hospital I could take the A-Train at 168th Street and Broadway, journey south to Columbus Circle and walk a few blocks to 215 West 57th Street.   Having won prizes in drawing and painting in school and having learned something of human anatomy, I thought I might become a medical illustrator.   In choosing a teacher at the League I passed over the abstractionists and found a realist: Frank Reilly.

If we accept Alfred North Whitehead's definition of nature as what we perceive through the senses, Frank Reilly's most notable feature was his perception.   His curiosity about how things looked led him to generalize not only about the human figure, but also about trees, distant mountains, and sunsets.   The characteristics of human creations he noted as well be they drapery or bricks, telephone poles or shoes.

If you are painting a distant mountain in a landscape in your studio, don't make it up, he advised.   Pick up some rocks and copy their shapes and shadows.

If you see an imposing tree, take a picture of it.   You may need it later.

Don't put heavy outlines around your depictions.   In nature objects are never outlined.

Drapery does not curve like that of early early Greek sculpture, rather it falls in linear patterns, he advised.   In his apartment, he recounted, he would pile up a few books on his coffee-table and throw a big handkerchief over them.  Then you could see how the cloth shapes itself relative to the books under it.   In order to demonstrate this principle he sometimes would ask the nude model to sit in a chair in her penultimate pose, then to assume the same pose after getting dressed.

I once asked him to look at a portrait I was doing.   Kind in his criticism, he pointed out that I had placed shadows of the same depth on both sides of the nose: something that almost never happens in reality.   He quickly and kindly added, "I like the way you rounded out the forehead."

On Saturday mornings at the League a model was provided in one of the studios where a member could sketch without paying a fee.  As I was working nights I could attend.  On one such occasion a striking girl in a black dress sat down beside me.  I would steal a glance when she crossed her nylon-covered legs making s swishing sound.  How odd you are I thought.   A completely naked woman is a few feet in front of you and you are more interested in one fully clothed.

During the model's break, we chatted and I asked if she would have lunch with me.   While eating I asked her if she had seen "A Streetcar Named Desire" with Marlon Brando -- the Broadway hit of the season. She answered no, but that she wanted to see it, adding, "It's sold out, Standing Room Only"   We ended up attending the Saturday matinee at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre: SRO. Brando's powerful performance captivated the audience.  To have seen Brando at the top of his career, even though it was the beginning, is a memory that has lasted a lifetime. Nor can one forget Jessica Tandy, Kim Hunter and Karl Malden who could not have been better.

My new friend's name was Epstein, but I can no longer remember her first name. What I do recall was that she lived in West End Avenue and that her uncle was the sculptor Jacob Epstein.  I enjoyed her company in the weeks that followed.  That the brothers Epstein were dentist and sculptor held significance: both had inherited an aptitude for working in three dimensions.

Often I was assigned the night shift at the Hospital. Then Manhattan became mine during daytime. The Island offered more things than museums and ball games.  When as 1949 was ending the sensational second perjury trial of Alger Hiss was in the headlines. Out of curiosity I journeyed to the Federal Courthouse in lower Manhattan to witness the arrival of Alger Hiss and his wife Priscilla. I was impressed by their aristocratic mien: well dressed and looking straight ahead as they ascended the steps.  I did not see Whittaker Chambers, nor was I seeking him out. My understanding of the trial was almost nil.  Only in later life did I delve into the details and read Chambers' "Witness" (1952). The affair was to ligitimise the Cold War and to propel Congressman Richard Nixon of Orange County, California, into the national spotlight.

Each patient with whom I came in contact was unique.  A young man about my age suffered paralysis with no feeling or movement below his neck.  He had dived into a shallow irrigation ditch in Texas and severed his spinal cord a neck level.   Like a hot dog in a bun, he was strapped in an apparatus called a Striker Frame.  It allowed the patient to be turned without disrupting the alignment of the neck -- upward, downward, or to either side. I tried to cheer him up with nonsensical stories at which he laughed -- perhaps out of politeness.  He could read a book when face down by turning pages with his mouth, each page having a thread attached to its corner. Eventually, he died of pneumonia.

Another was a pleasent piano player with syphilis. He related that he played in a show band. He met and married a chorus girl from whom he was infected with syphilis   The treatment that he underwent consisted of heating his body to a temperature that would kill Treponema bacteria without killing him.

I could be assigned to any part of the Center each time I came to work; often at midnight.  Among my most horrendous memories are those of the Emergency Room and the Neurological Institution.  The victims of automobile accidents brought to the Emergency Room engendered in me a fear of what an impact can do.  Americans are said to have a love affair with the automobile. I am not among them.

In the Neurological Institution I became acquainted with brain cancer.  It seemed to me almost always the same scenario.   A male patient -- I was assigned to male wards -- had a headache for the last few days.   Aspirin failed to lessened the pain.  He would be diagnosed by a spinal tap and an x-ray.  A tumor would be detected.   Surgery was performed.   After having survived the operation, he would be visited by his wife and children. Ushered to his bedside they tried to speak to him only to learn that he had been transformed.  He had become a vegetable.

The most disheartening patients in Columbia-Presbyterian I encountered in the Childrens Hospital -- many with cancer.  This experience remains too terrible for me to recount after more than a half-century.  It forced me to ask myself how this could be if the universe was directed by a loving God.

No one that I wrote to -- including the director of the Methodist youth group in Charlottesville -- or talked to about my problem could come up with a satisfying answer.  After much thought, I no longer could believe in a monotheistic deity.  I concurred with George Orwell's dictum: the idea of religion is "nonsensical."

Mother Nature became my mistress.  Not loving me, not hating me, she demonstrated only indifference.   She remains difficult to live with, but she tells no lies.   Her indifference became my freedom. I was transformed into a recovering Christian. As the Bible had promised, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" - John 8:32. To that I added that one must know the truth before he -- newspeak "they" -- can find happiness.

In the evening of my first day of freedom, I felt elated enough to walk two blocks north on Broadway from Columbia-Presbyterian and order a beer at a neighborhood tavern. On entering such a sanctuary for the first time, I felt comradeship. Obviously the patrons knew one another.  After ordering a glass of beer I stood at the bar and watched, on the wall behind it, my first television program ever: "The Texaco Star Theater" featuring Milton Berle, "Uncle Miltie, the Thief of Bad Gag," and America's first TV star.  He paddled across the back-and-white screen in a wheeled canoe.  With no idea that I was slowly sipping the bartender commanded me, "Drink up!"   He had no idea that I was slowly sipping the first one of my life; that I was shedding my teetotaler status.  On the other hand, I had no idea that he was offering me a free drink.   For him I was a newcomer in the neighborhood. Suddenly, it dawned on me that life was there to be enjoyed.

Before I had left the University of Virginia for the last time, I stopped by the YMCA office to say good bye.  On hearing that I was off to New York, Gloria, the secretary, mentioned that she was from New York and would be there in a month or so.  She gave me a card bearing an address in the West 80's and a phone number.  This sounded strange since she was married to a University student whom I had never met.

Once settled in New York, I phoned Gloria who instructed me to take the A-train and and get off near 38 street.   She was living there with her married sister in a brownstone.

Gloria, small, slender, and pretty, looked younger than I although two or three years older. She told me that she was working for an importer of newsprint from Canada.  She mentioned that she was now divorced.  Her voice was matter of fact and her story criptic.  She did not complain never mentioned it again.  We began to go out together.  She liked the museums and the movies. One Saturday afternoon as we strolled by Bloomingdale's she spied a a jacket and pleated woolen skirt of red plaid. Out of curiosity, we went inside to ask the price.  An obviously experienced saleslady studied Gloria before she gave us the cost adding, "And we have it in a size eight." Given Gloria's pleasing figure, I thought to myself, "Eight sounds like a wonderful size."

Weeks passed as we enhanced our knowledge not only of art history and motion pictures, but of one another.   Our favorite museum was the Metropolitan where neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova's "Psyche Revived by the Kiss of Love" became our focal point. 

Antonio Canova 1757-1822
"Psyche Revived by the Kiss of Love" 1787

One Saturday night we happened on Sammy's Bowery Follies at Bowery and 3rd Street. "Sammy" was Sammy Fuchs, the owner, an Austrian refugee.   The offbeat nightclub known as "the poor man's Stork Club."   Since I was a poor young man I felt we belonged there.  Sammy charged a minimum which meant that the beer flowed more than our ability to consume it.  As we staggered out the waiter said, "Sir, aren't you forgetting the waiter?"  "No," I answered, "You can have all the bottles that we couldn't drink."  It was somewhat embarrassing to leave that way, but we had only a few nickels for the subway.

It had been an auspicious evening. Gloria had agreed to help me loose my virginity.

On the following weekend, we met in Times Square at a time and place agreed upon.  I had slept little the night before so excited as I was at the prospect of what awaited.  I carried a suitcase within which rested a bottle of effervescent, sparkling Burgundy.  I had no idea that the French filled their worst wine with bubbles. I assumed that one should carry a suitcase when registering at the Hotel Taft in order to avoid suspicion that we were unwed. In retrospect, we must have looked like two innocents abroad. As Gloria said about herself: "Don't I look like Little Miss Prim?"

We spent the wonderful weekend in bed. Only to grab a bite now and then on Times Square did we leave our nest. No longer a virgin, I had found heaven on earth.

All was going well. My drawing skills were developing.  I had enrolled in Reginald Marsh's class while continuing to study with Frank Reilly.  Marsh was another excellent teacher, warm, kind, insightful.   My fascination with New York continued to grow.   Then, suddenly, unexpectly, my dream ended.

On June 25, 1950 when it happened I paid little attention to Korea being invaded.  Half way around the world, how could it affect me? Weeks later, the answer to this question came in the form of a letter to me from the draft board in Newport News.  I filled out a request asking to take my physical exam in New York.   My petition having been granted, I showed up on time in lower Manhattan.  The first order of business turned out to be an intelligence test consisting of twenty or so problems.  They seemed less than daunting and, not being highly motivated, I finished it within 10 or 12 minutes and handed it in to the army sargent who sat at the table in front of what appeared a classroom. He checked my test immediately and showed it to the corporal seated beside him.   They whispered.  The corporal left only to return with a lieutenant, who rechecked my test from the list of correct answers.  Every one else in the room was still at work.   I was pointed out to the officer.   I had put down the correct solutions to all of the problems.   From their reactions, it would appear that my feat was something that seldom happened.

I felt certain that because of my lungs and eyes, I would be rejected and classified 4-F, as that category was designated.  For the physical exam we had disrobed.  With the first doctor who looked at me I called attention to the scar on my back from my childhood surgery, but to no avail.  Lined up ahead of me receiving all the attention was a Jewish divinity student wearing only a wide-brimmed black hat from which long curls fell.  His chalk-white body held an anomalous heart that the doctors were looking at with fascination.  But my lungs?   The stethoscope pronounced them hale and hearty. And my myopic eyes?   A thick lens remedied them.

As I walked out of the big room last doctor stamped my medical report saying as he did so: "You are class C.   That means you can be drafted, but you won't be allowed to fight. No combat for you."  And so it was to be.

I said my good-byes to those with whom I worked with me at Columbian-Presbyterian, to my companions at the Art Students' League.When, after calling ahead, I dropped by to see Gloria, her brother-in-law let me in.  He told me that Gloria had gone out because she was too distraught about my leaving to see me.

Returning to Newport News, I spent a few days with my parents.  In the pre-dawn darkness of the appointed day, the 19th of February 1951, I said farewell to my father at the railroad station.   A member of the draft board handed me a stack of orders and put me in charge of the group of a dozen or so draftees. I was so entrusted because of having made the top score on the test given in New York.  Several of the group I had known in high-school.  We were told to memorize our new serial numbers on our trip to Fort George E. Meade, Maryland. From that day to this I can recite it on command.

After a few days in Fort Meade, I learned that I would undergo a six month training program at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina.  On satisfactory completion I would earn the designation of "infantry replacement."  This came as somewhat of a shock.   I had been assured that my myopia would keep me out of combat. Only later did I learned that because US troops had almost driven into the sea at the start of the conflict.  One reason for this was that the cooks and musicians and their ilk had little weapons training.  Thereafter, everyone entering the army was required to undergo six months of basic training.

I had entered the army at a historic moment.  Under the leadership of President Harry Truman and Chief of Staff Dwight Eisenhower it was undergoing racial integration. Up until then black men had to serve their country in all-black units.

My opportunity to view this process was as if I were anthropologist: as a participant observer at first hand. Moreover, the setting was the deep segregated south.

The Eighth "Golden Arrow" Division to which I was assigned had seen 10 straight months of combat in World War II in Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, and Central European campaigns.

At the same time the Thirty-first Infantry Division, dubbed the "Dixie Division" because its members were white males from Alabama and Missisippi, was undergoing training at Fort Jackson. It had seen action in the South Pacific during World War II. Apparently, it had become a division of the National Guard.  As we marched out to the firing ranges each morning, our salt-and-pepper company would hear cat calls and whistles from the lily-whites of the 31st which we answered branding them the "Dixie Dahlin's" and "White Crackers."

On the military base the "Golden Arrow" solders were living in a desegregated society.  Off base in Columbia, South Carolina's capital, we were in a completely segregated society.

At the age of 22 and for the first time in my life, I had the opportunity to know Negroes at close range and on equal terms. 

Shoulder patches for Eighth "Golden Arrow" Division and Thirty-first "Dixie" Division

Our company of 200 soldiers showed more disparate qualities than race. Many were volunteers rather than draftees, most had only recently been graduated from high-school and three of four years younger than I.  Many had signed up to continue training in order to become paratroopers.  The most eager of these chose to sleep at the higher level our two-tiered bunks. On awakening, they stood up and jumped to the floor as if landing in a parachute.

It seemed that I was the only college graduate in our barracks.  I defended myself against sergents seeking to intimidate me by transforming myself into a pedant.  The following dialogue is an example.  Sergent: "Where was you at?" Me (with feigned sincerity): "What? Oh, you mean to say 'were.'  'Was' is third person.  The correct form of the verb 'to be' in the your sentence is in the second person 'were.'  Moreover, you shouldn't end the sentence with the preposition 'at' or any preposition whatsoever." They tended to let me alone after that.

It turned out that I was not the only college grad there after all.  His name was Clarence Varner.  He was thin and a bit stooped.  Like me, he was a draftee and wore glasses. Unlike me he was a Negro.  It was great to find someone with whom I could talk, who read books, who knew who Beethoven was, and Bartok, and Joseph Stalin.

We could converse while eating in the mess hall, or resting after a long march. We we could not do was to eat together off base.  Columbia, South Carolina, was completely segregated by race.

I asked Clarence whether he thought this situation strange. He answered that he had a way to circumvent the rules.   On our next opportunity to go off base we left together.  Clarence had graduated from a Negro College in the south and had been a fraternity member. He had friends in Columbia.  We took a cab to a fraternity house at one of Columbia's Colleges.  He gave the secret handshake to the brother who had opened the door.  We were both in uniform since we had been ordered to send home all of our civilian garb during our training. It was a Friday night: party time. Girls were there, real live girls, how wonderful.

On another outing, Clarence had been invited to dinner with a college friend and his new wife.   He coached football at a Black high-school in Columbia. The newlyweds made delightful and most gracious pair.

Clarence turned out to be a member of the Negro Elks Lodge -- a real joiner. We stopped by the local Lodge one evening and ordered scotch on the rocks. Only a few members were present and all were much older than we. They seemed grave and somewhat conservative in dress and demeanor. When the waiter returned he carried but one scotch and served it to Clarence. He said that they could not serve me.  This upset Clarence, but I intervened telling both him and the waiter that "turnabout is fair play." I must have been the first white person to have entered the private domain and the members didn't know what to do with me. Perhaps they thought I would become rowdy or worse under the influence of fire water. 

After one of our sojourns to Columbia, we took a cab back to Fort Jackson. The hour was somewhat late. On entering the base we were stopped by a military guard. He explored the rear seat of the cab with an enormous flash light. As he did so, we could see his shoulder which bore the double D patch of the Dixie Division. He carefully observed our faces: one beige, one white. He must have seen our Golden Arrow shoulder patches as well. Not a word was spoken as he continued to observe. Time passed. Finally, he waved us on. He would have a strange story to relate in the mess-hall at breakfast.

I corresponded with Clarence for a few years after the army. He entered a Presbyterian monastery. I had no idea that Presbyterians had such things.

Early each morning after breakfast and inspection we marched out to a different venue to practice with different weapon, always carrying our M-1 rifles.

Like beasts of burden, we knew not where we were going or what weapon awaited us there. It could be hand-grenades or 50 millimeter machine-guns; mortars or bazookas we were to learn to employ.  The sandy soil into which our boots would sink with each step made marching difficult. To relieve the monotony we would chant in march-time, "I met a gal and she was willing. Now I'm taking penicillin.  Sound off!  Sound off!  One, two, three, four.  One, two,three four."

Had I not been informed that I would never be engaged in combat I might have taken this more seriously. Of greater concern, I did not want to become brutalized by the process. I saw this happening to many of my comrads. They were developing a pecking order.

I was puzzled that we were told nothing about why the US was fighting in South Korea. As with the US mission in Iraq as I write, it seemed to change. The goal was held to be the unification of Korea, repel aggression, secure our forces, and finally to secure an armistice.  The sole reason given for why we were learning how to fight was so that we would "not let down our buddies." (Another parallel with present day training and fighting.) Frankly, I found it difficult to think of my fellow trainees as buddies.

Shortly before the invasion, the U.S. Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, had given a speech in which he defined the "defense perimeter" to Communist threats in Asia.  Acheson failed to list South Korea in his list.  Could this have resulted in the invasion from the north?

I always carried, fitted in the pocket of my fatigues, The Pocket Book of Verse that cost me thirty-five cents. Often I would wander off into the pine trees instead of firing a rifle or throwing hand grenades. As 50 caliber machine guns started to fire in the background I would open my volume to "The Bridge of Sighs" or something just as maudlin.

The other book that I treasured was Jaroslav Hasek's The Good Soldier Svejk. Needless to say, I sought to emulate Private Svejk who resists all attempts to make him a compliant soldier.  His challenge to authority is indirect and often gives the impression of being an eccentric.

On our first payday we received our money at the firing range where we had been firing mortars all day. At the same time and place several mothers and their children had presented themselves. All were Negros. How they learned about the event and how they had reached it, I shall never know. Obviously, they were the wives and children of my fellow trainees. I couldn't help myself in remarking on this revelation to "Smiley," a gentle soul who spoke with a southern accent. "What a wonderful surprise," I exclaimed. "I never though of you guys having wives and children.  And what lovely children and what beautiful wives."  To me, the patronizing romantic, Smiley replied, "Yeah, dem bitches always shows up on payday."

The six months of training ended with a bang, literally so. Our graduation exercise consisted of crawling, rifles in tow, while machine-guns fired live ammunition close above. The tracer bullets lit up the night while underground explosives went off around us. To have panicked and jumped up would have meant instant death.

Half of the company graduates were assigned to Korea, one forth to Europe, and one forth to the US. The latter group was my group and included those volunteering for paratroop training.

Soon, as if in a dream, I found myself alone on a train with a duffel-bag headed for Fort Sam Houston and San Antonio, Texas. On my order sheet I found listed my MOS -- Military Occupational Specialty -- "Artist Illustrator." I was assigned to the Graphic Arts Section of The Brooke Army Medical Center and the US Army Field Service School.

With pen and India Ink I soon found myself among colonels and generals who were drafting field manuals on sanitation, malaria control, and digging latrines. Desirous of illustrations to match the high quality of their writings, they regaled me with cigars, which I did not smoke, chewing gum and candy all of which I appreciated. The head of dentistry on the base enlisted me to do the captions of an epic motion picture on malocclusion. To celebrate putting the flick in the can he reciprocated by extracting all four of my wisdom teeth which had been bothering me. They would never bother me again or cost me anything later on, I thought. How wrong I was. By the next day both of my cheeks had become balloon-like and accompanied a pronounced pain in my jaws.  Thus I found myself back in the dental chair that afternoon.  As the colonel stared into the private's mouth in walked a general. He turned out to be from Washington and the head of dentistry for the whole US Army at Brooke on a tour of inspection. He was also an old and dear friend of the colonel. On seeing my plight, he laughed and laughed finally saying to his friend something on the order of "you really screwed up there."  My mouth being filled with cotton wads and rubber sheeting, I was unable to join in the fun or to come up with something jocular.

Lacking any previous knowledge of San Antonio and the southwest, I was anxious to explore the city. I waited at a bus-stop on the base a brown convertible with top down cruised by.  Driven by lone soldier uniformed as I, showing no indication of rank and, therefore a private.  "Hey, who was that?" I asked to the five or six who waited with me.  "Oh", came the answer, "That was Vic Damone." "Vic Damone, the Italian-American crooner." I thought, "How surreal." Later I learned that Damone was born only a couple of months later than I, and that he had been drafted as I.

I was pleasantly surprised by San Antonio's downtown. Mexican influences abounded everywhere: in the architecture of the Alamo and the churches, in the Spanish spoken on the bus and in the street. Why had I not studied Spanish instead of Latin in high school and German in college? Perhaps, it was not too late. I passed a cinema that exhibited posters in Spanish. Maybe I could learn a few words by watching a Mexican movie. A few moments later I had settled myself in a seat and was looking at a romantic picture filled with mariachi music, palm trees and a gorgeous leading lady. Alone, I felt more so given the developing plot which I could see was leading to a happy ending even though I failed to understand a single word other than "si" and "adiose." "What am I doing here?" I thought. "And why am I in uniform when I no longer have to be when I go off base?" I added.

My queries I answered by leaving the theater and walking until I found a department store. There I bought a pair of jeans and a short sleeved shirt of blue and red design. I asked for a large shopping bag into which I deposited my uniform and cap.  Next, I hurried on to the Greyhound Bus Station and purchased a ticket to Laredo on the border with Mexico. The Singing Cowboy Gene Autry's song "South of the Border (Down Mexico Way)" popped in my head.

As the bus departed the sun soon dropped below the horizon.  Seated toward the rear I soon discovered that I was surrounded by an extended family of Hispanic heritage.  It included several young ladies who on noticing me switched into English to ask what I had planned for tomorrow, Sunday. Sensing that I had none, they suggested the bull fight, so that we could join up again. Where was I staying? I had no idea. They suggested a hotel in Nuevo Laredo on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande, known in Mexico as the Rio Bravo.  That evening I walked across the bridge. This marked the first time I had left American soil.

Soon I realized that I was not the only person from Fort Sam Houston there and that the Air Force was represented as well. Best of all, no military police were walking the streets as in San Antonio. My erstwhile comrades had soon conducted me to a part of the city called Boys' Town  after the organization founded by Father Flanagan and the motion picture of the same name which chronicled it.

The mini-Las Vegas lit up the sky with many-colored neon signs I could not decipher.  Mariachi musicians played pieces I had never heard combining trumpets and violins with a huge guitar out of the Middle Ages that marked the beat.  Apparently this "guitaron" had survived only in Mexico.  Falsetto yells, while stinging the ears, punctuated the singing and lamenting lost loves.

Mexican and American males young and older downed tubular glasses of tequila or sipped beer from bottles bearing labels marked "Bohemia," "Dos Equies," and "Carta Blanca." Did Bohemia refer to the place of origin of the beer or signal that those who downed it thought them selves transformed into true bohemians? Practicioners of the oldest profession, most of the ladies present were young with straight black hair fashioned in long pigtails with ribbons.   Some wore sandals, others heels with which some were having difficulties.   They smiled as they sat at a table and tried a few words in English with the Gringos.

The following day brought another exotic experience: the bull fight. In their dress and movements the matadors (literally "killers") resembled ballet dancers.  Their trajes de luz (suits of light) glistened in the sunlight.

On my return to "Fort Sam" I soon observed that on the first weekend after payday the traffic to Nuevo Laredo was heaviest. Thereafter, I waited until the last weekend of the month to visit. Things were slower then and there was more time to talk with the girls. I had enrolled in a Spanish course at the base conducted by an elderly American couple.  They were excellent. They taught through conversation rather than the traditional reading and writing of the universities and the high schools of the time. Soon I could speak a few words of Spanish with the soldiers of Mexican background. The one I remember best was Sargent Arispe.

Perhaps he was moved by my study of Spanish which I practiced with a few words in our conversations. His sister lived in northern Mexico in the town named Arispe. When she came to San Antonio for a visit the three of us went to see a Mexican motion picture named "Sensualidad." I knew little Spanish at the time, only enough to know that the title in English would be "Sensuality." I held her hand for some time in the dark. Then she lifted my hand and, opening her blouse, directed it to her busom as she whispered in my ear "sensualidad." I would never forgot that word.

A growing curiosity about Mexico soon led me to visit the much larger city of Monterrey farther south. On the occasion of my parents visiting me in San Antonio, I took them to Monterrey. Just before our bus was to cross the border into Nuevo Laredo an earnest young soldier in Military Police uniform got on the bus and checked my papers. Almost apologetically, he said that the U.S. Army could no longer be responsible for my safety while in Mexico. I thought to myself, "How wonderful!"

San Antonio boasted several military airfields. One only had to show s leave papers in order to hitch-hike a flight to anywhere. On a couple of occasions I left from Lackland Air Force Base to fly home.  A C-47 cargo plane carried me to Langley Air Force Base near Hampton. A B-25 bomber took me to Dover Airforce Base in Delaware from where I could catch a bus for home.

On one occasion, I traveled with two or three other passengers in a B-25 bomber.  We were required to wear parachutes.  I was given headphones to wear the whole trip.  In an emergency the pilots in the cabin could warn us to abandon the airship.

On another trip on a C-47, "the workhorse of the air-force," our cargo was a huge piece of machinery.  The C-47 carried a crew of two.   The cargo had to be somewhere by a certain time.  Dangerously fatigued, the two pilots had been flying for hours. So that co-pilot could take a much needed nap I was placed in his seat and ordered to keep my eyes on the pilot beside me in case he started to nod.  We were headed north over Georgia.  I saw nothing of the landscape.   My eyes were on the exhausted airforce lieutenant beside me.

When I was to return to Fort Sam after visiting home in Newport News my mother would let Doris Fleenor know.  Doris was a pretty girl who lived across the street who was courted by airmen from Langley Field.  If any of her admirers were flying west, Doris would ask them to drop me off in San Antonio.  My rank was private and their's lieutenant yet I was, in a roundabout way, giving them an order.  From this experience I learned that if you wanted something done, ask a woman.

After a few months in San Antonio I went to a dance where I met a dark-eyed girl of Mexican descent named Nancy.   Her brother, George, was a policeman as well as the owner of a funeral home.  Nancy lived in the funeral home with her brother and his wife.

Early in our relationship, we were petting in the evening darkness in George's hearse, which doubled as an ambulance. Our happiness often contrasted against a backdrop of mourners' sobs emanating from the funeral parlor.

A few weeks after meeting Nancy, she and her brother and sister-in-law invited me to join them for a weekend in Nuevo Laredo. Because I worked Saturdays until noon, I was unable to drive with them on Friday. I took the bus and met them at a restaurant late Saturday afternoon. Although late to me, the restaurant buzzed with waiters, mariachi music and families enjoying themselves over plates of roasted goat, with tortillas, beer, and tequila. George taught me the tequila ritual involving salting the back of the hand below the thumb and a squeeze of fresh dark green lime. Then he asked for an avocado which he peeled expertly with a knife -- my first avocado. On my arrival at the table Nancy had whispered to me, "We booked you a hotel room: mine." What a delightful surprise! My hands started to sweat, as I feigned a stoical mien. I somehow remained able to enjoy the meal. 

Things went so beautifully that on our return to San Antonio the following Monday, we started to comb the classified ads seeking a small apartment.  Nancy qualified for subsidized housing because she had a young daughter. The daughter was studying as a boarder in a Catholic girls' school in San Antonio whom we visited each weekend. Nancy was happy to move out of the funeral home. I followed her lead and moved out of the barracks.  Somehow, during a man-to-man talk, I was able to convince Sergent Arispe who called roll to mark me present and accounted for each dark morning at 5:30 and promised to show up at the base by 8:30. I also promised to check my bed at the barracks each noon to make sure that a quarter would bounce on the top blanket.  Early in our relationship I had told Nancy that eventually I would have to move on in order to complete my education. My plan was to study medical illustration at Johns Hopkins which had the best program in the field. On my next leave I returned to Newport News to visit my parents at the same time that Ralph, two, was on leave from the navy. From there I visited Johns Hopkins to learn at first hand more about the program. A faculty member gave me a clear idea of what type of portfolio I should prepare to send with my application. "Take a rubber tube, make knots in it, and draw it!" she suggested after I had exhibited a few drawings including nudes from New York and "how to signal a tank" from San Antonio.

My two years as a conscript were ending as was the fighting in Korea. The cease-fire was to come on July 27, 1953. I prolonged parting from Nancy. Among the Visual Arts group I had made a friendship with a quiet thoughtful draftee. On occasion I had invited Jim for dinner at our apartment. On making my good-byes I asked him to look after Nancy. "Don't worry," he said, "I'll take care of her."  We remained in touch. Soon he wrote that they had married. Sometime later they had a son.

MacMaster, another friend among the draftee artists and illustrators, advised me to visit Mexico City before heading home. "How could you miss seeing Diego Rivera´s murals ?" he admonished.  "Take the train! It's got a diner, pullman, and observation car," he added.

His enthusiasm convinced me; and he proved to be right.  In the Presidential Palace at the center of Mexico City I observed not only the murals, but Rivera in the flesh.  He worked high on a scaffold as he painted the last panel of the series. It depicted the Spanish influence on the native culture at the Conquest. To New Spain were brought farm animals, smallpox -- illustrated by a muscular black slave -- and greed for gold and silver.

Around the corner from the Palace I later strolled down Calle de Moneda (Street of the Mint) stopping at number 13, the Anthopology Museum. I had no idea of what lay behind the huge wooden doors. Monuments from Mexico's Precolumbian past awaited the visitor -- in this case the ignorant visitor. My college studies were of no help in preparing me for what lay there.  At the University of Virginia I had learned something of Darwinism and romantic poetry, Pavlov's dogs and Mendel's peas, but nothing had prepared me for this.   I was struck dumb by the massive size and the exotic look of Aztec sculpture. As Coatlicue, the giant earth mother, looked down at me I experienced an epiphany. This was another woman that I wanted to know.

Against the wall nearest her the massive Sun Stone -- misnamed the Aztec Calender Stone. The Tizoc Stone, round like a huge drum, depicted fourteen conquests by the Aztec Emperor Tizoc that one could only see by walking around it. The wind god, Ehecatl, wore a mask that mimiced the beak of a bird. All of the sculptures in the room seemed exotic to me in that they were to me another part of the world. Their strangeness became, almost instantly, a challenge to me. I wanted to find out what they were about.

I had taken a boarding house located on the wide, impressive Paseo Reforma. I was not the only young Norteamericano there. A dinner conversation changed my plans.  I learned of an unique institution called Mexico City College. Classes there were taught in English. It was approved in the Uninted States and, therefore, one could study there under the so-called "G.I. Bill."  (Although the letters G and I stood for Government Issue, they signified an individual soldier as in the phrase "G.I. Joe.")   After my two years of servitude I was entitled to thirty six months of schooling.  I visied Mexico City College the following day.  Its architecture had nothing in common with the Thomas Jefferson's Palladian University of Virginia.

The campus consisted of decrepit mansions converted to classrooms in an area of Mexico City called Colonia Roma. It had been an elegant neighborhood at the turn of the century: the "Porfiriato" or rule of the dictator Porfirio Diaz. To change from one classroom to the next students strolled through colorful markets with stands piled high with tropical fruits papaya, mangos, pineapples, zapotes, and star fruit, and passed "pulquerias" which featured the ancient Aztec fermented alcoholic drink called pulque. 

At the admissions office on the Calle San Luis Potosi I met the Dean of Admissions, Elizabeth Lopez, who furnished me with the proper forms, telling me that if accepted I would have to reenter Mexico so as to acquire the Mexican document allowing me to remain in the country while studying.

Thus is was that I formally entered Mexico with a student visa.  Joseph Stalin had died the day before, on March 5, 1953, and the newspapers in Laredo and Nuevo Laredo bore giant headlines marking the momentous event.

On my return to Mexico City I found a boarding house close to the school. Before I took it, I asked if any one there spoke English. On receiving a negative response, I paid the first month's rent from the $110 dollar monthly check that I picked up from the Consulate at the U.S. Embassy. I wanted to learn Spanish as a child learns a language. Soon I was perchasing Excelsior, the morning newspaper.   Being somewhat familiar with world events, if not those of Mexico, helped me as did Spanish cognates with English.  Spanish words ending in the letters -or or -cion were the most obvious.

During the first days of classes I had joyfully discovered that the professors at Mexico City College were excellent. Most taught at other institutions as well including the prestigeous Universidad Nacional de Mexico. Salaries were so low that an academic often was forced to teach at two or more institutions. Another factor was the influx of intellectuals from Spain during and after the Spanish Civil war of 1936-39. Mexico had opened its arms to refugees of both sides and thereby was enriched in its academic faculties, along with the likes of bakeries, and hardware stores. 

Pedro Armillas, who walked with a limp from a war wound was one of the Spanish scholars I studied under. His Spanish accent was so heavy that I had difficulty understanding it. Fortunately, all classes at Mexico City College were in Enlish.  It would be difficult to pick a favorite teacher among the likes of Armillas, and Ignacio Bernal, amd Pablo Martinez del Rio. 

The eldest of these three was "Don Pablo", the most charming man I ever knew and, as well, the only one who wore spats. He seemed more British than Mexican, having studied in Oriel College at Oxford University. He was born in Mexico City on May 10, 1892: the year that marked four hundred years after Columbus had reached the Americas.  His godfather was President Porfirio Diaz. He described his christening as he motioned pendulum-like an invisible baby his arms "The Old Man held me in his arms like this and rocked me."

While at Oxford he made a walking tour across western Europe as far as Athens.

When I enrolled in his course on early civilizations Martinez del Rio held the position of Director of the Escuela Nacional de Antropologia y Historia. Wanting to acquire a technical anthropological vocabulary in Spanish, I asked Don Pablo if I could take some classes at the Escuela.  Much to my delight he granted my wish. At the same time he was teaching headed the archaeological project to reveal the twin city of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan: Tlaltelolco. And, because his family fortune was wiped when Porfirio Diaz was overthrown, he sent his mornings as a banker.

Pedro Armillas, like Don Pablo, was carrying out an archaeological project.  He was digging and restoring the ball court at Xochicalco in the state of Morelos south of the Cuernavaca.  Rather than lectures, his classes were given as seminars. In them he showed a wide range of knowledge of ancient civilizations in both the Old and New Worlds.  Should a student in his class on Mesoameica ask a question for which there was no answer he would say, "I don't know, but that means that no one knows."  When he received a contract to write an article on Mesoamerica, ancient Mexico and Central America, he asked me if I could take down his dictation on a typewriter.   He rewarded me with his duplicate books on Mexican archaeology.   So fast did he dictate that I found it impossible to avoid misspelling.  It must have upset him when I wrote Guatemala as Guatamala, but it was the first time in my life that I had set down the name. The up-to-date article appeared with all errors corrected in the 1957 Encyclopedia Britannica Vol. 2 under Archaeology XX Mesoamerica.

Like Pablo Martinez del Rio, Ignacio Bernal came from an aristocratic family. Having studied at the Sorbonne he spoke French as well as English. He had worked under the highly regarded archaeologist Alfonso Caso at Monte Alban in the state of Oaxaca.  Caso's worldwide reputation had come about with his discovery of Tomb 7 at Monte Alban and its magnificent offering of gold.  With this single discovery Caso doubled the known prehispanic gold from Mexico.

On learning that Bernal was to direct a course on archaeology in the field the following winter I signed up.   "How fortunate," I thought, "to learn from the person who learned archaeology from Caso."

Meanwhile I took a basic course in anthropology taught by Jorge Vivo and, with Bernal, Indians of the Americas.

I began learning about Mexico's ancient past not only from books and lectures, but also from visiting the museum and archaeological sites within Mexico City the Valley of Mexico. The capital of a far-flung empire, Teotihuacan overpowers one's emotions given its massive Pyramid of the Sun, Street of the Dead, and Pyramid of the Moon.

Many smaller sites were scattered around the Valley of Mexico. On weekends I could visit them by taking a bus ride. I was not along in my explorations. Early on, I had the good fortune in finding a friend at Mexico City College whose interests were similar to mine. A cousin of Ignacio Bernal, Fernando Horcasitas, had become a history instructor after earning his masters degree there. His lecture style was such that he could bring tears to all when describing the execution of Emperor Maximillian.  From a staunch Catholic family, he had spent part of his youth in Los Angeles having to leave Mexico for political reasons.  On one of our excursions we hit upon a massive Teotihacan sculpture of the god of rain, Tlaloc in the village of Coatlinchan just south of Tezcoco. It lay face-up connected to the earth. We pulled ourselves up atop of Tlaloc's belly and ate our sandwiches. What had happened to prevent this monument from standing erect? We spoke of the possibility of a messenger from Teotihuacan arriving here with a message to the sculptor: "Contract suspended, cease work immediately!"  No one could have predicted that ten years in the future -- 1964 -- the 75 ton Tlaloc was to grace the entry of a new Museum of Anthropology and History on Paseo de la Reforma.

Some time later, I went south with Fernando to see something of the Maya area in Yucatan. We were joined by another student at Mexico City College, Oriol Pi-Sunyer, a Catalan born in Barcelona. His family had escaped Franco's forces in the Civil War. We went by sea from the port of Veracruz. Once in Veracruz we had to search the daily paper want adds for an announcement of a ship bound for Progreso, the port for Merida, Yucatan. Once there we explored the sites of Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Labna, and Sayil. During our stay in Merida Fernando decided to pay a visit to some cousins who lived there and took us along. Their home, the Montejo mansion built by their ancestor the Spanish conquistador Francisco de Montejo greatly impressed us. The cousins turned out to be two proper young ladies who were sitting by the window crocheting.  They spoke french along with spanish as did the upper class in Mexico at the time. During our conversation they revealed that when they traveled it was always to Paris. Never had their destination been New York or, for that matter, had they cared to set foot in the U.S.

On our return to Mexico City Fernando mentioned that he had found in Spanish sources descriptions of the sacrifice of infants. The rite was celebrated atop Mount Tlaloc which rises 13,270 feet above sea level.  On maps the village of Rio Frio seemed the settlement closest to mountain and had the advantage of being on a main highway that goes from Mexico City to Puebla. We visited there and spoke to several people who described sculptures at the top which were a big as automobiles. Others gave us more conservative descriptions, but they all said something big was there. Fernando, Oriole, and I were joined by another student: John Hobgood to climb the mountain. We were ignorant as to how the human body reacts in going from the 7,500 feet of the Valley of Mexico to 13,434 feet or about 6,000 feet. The lack of oxygen and the coldness of the air cause one to stop and rest every few steps. We stayed there for two days, but retreated some 3,000 feet to sleep by a fire. We made a second trip lasting four days in order to study and measure what would have been a ceremonial structure. A long passage flanked by stone walls led into a grandiose rectangular space.  I had brought along a compass in order to check the direction of the entryway. Unfortunately, I was so disoriented by the lack of oxygen that I copied down a wrong direction. From the diagram I was able to find the site from an agency that had taken aerial pictures of the Valey of Mexico. It was published along with an article that I did with Fernando.

Meanwhile, I reverted to my regular social life.  This involved the fair sex mostly of the lower classes since middle class mothers prohibited their dauhters from leaving the house without a chaperon. Salon Mexico, which inspired Aron Copeland to write one of his most popular pieces of the same name "El Salon Mexico.", was a great place to meet girls.  The first time I went there I joined the line to enter. The men in the line raised their arms to be frisked for knives and firearms.  When my turn came, I raised my arms to the bouncer. Instead of frisking me he smiled and waved me in.  He thought I was harmless and he was correct.

The laadies in the huge dance hall mirrored in their dress Mexico's rural to urban development. Hair-dos could go from pigtails to Tom-boy, shoes from sandals to high-heels. Various degrees of competence in walking or dancing with heels to the music of the Luis Alcaraz big band indicated how long ago they had arrived in "la capital." Most were housemaids.

Many bars featured dancing with music from a juke-box. One could dance with a girl for a twenty cent copper coin per number. The girls were called "ficheras" meaning "poker-chips." One Saturday night after attending a banquet I continued the evening at one such den of iniquity the "Bombay"  To attend the banquet, I had dressed in my black suit with white shirt and black tie. At the time Mexican law prohibited catholic priests to wear in public their traditional collar.  Therefore they dressed in the same garb as I was wearing. I left the bar when it closed at 6 AM as the bells tolled for early mass. As I walked I observed under a corner lamplight, like Lilly Marlain, a lone girl who had probably been there all night. On seeing me she called, "Hey whitey, shall we go?"  I thought I would be cute and answered as the bells continued to ring, "Where do you want us to go? To mass?"  At this her posture changed instantly.  Leaning forward and lowering her head she began to whisper, "Oh father, I haven't been to mass in four or five weeks.  I would go with you if I didn't have all this makeup.  I promise to go next week." With that she took my hand and kissed it leaving lipstick on my spinel buff University of Virginia graduation ring. "Be sure you do!" I admonished. The moral of this story is that one should not joke about some one's profession. Even lawyers don't appreciate such revelry.

Finally winter came and with it my introduction to field archaeology in Oaxaca. Ignacio Bernal had chosen a site to investigate close to the town of Tlacolula along the Pan American highway south of the City of Oaxaca. It was called Yagul which, in the local Zapotec language, means "old tree or stick." It lies halfway up a hill and offers a spectacular view of the valley. An even better view is from a natural fort at hilltop.

The winter quarter was chosen for two basic reasons: it is the dry season and given that, little farming would be going on, we could easily obtain workers.  A respected village elder was approached an asked to choose thirty or so workers. Kinship would play a key role in his choices. The ability to work with cement and stone was crucial for the top jobs. It was assumed that all would bring their own machetes when needed for clearing. 

Bernal assigned the ball-court to Oriole Pi-Sunyer and me for exploration. We began our work on 4 February 1954. After cutting the vegetation, our workers dug with pick and shovel until white bits of stucco appeared. The Precolumbian builders of the structure had followed the wide-spread method of covering their stonework with a layer of hard stucco. This cover allowed us to explore wthout damaging the structure.  When evidence of stucco appeared the archaeologist had to clear the stucco with a trowel and a brush to protect it from harm.  One had to be vigilant.  As Bernal stated it, "There are two types of archaeologists: the sun archaeologist and the shade archaeologist."  The good archaeologist would suffer the heat of the sun in case something of importance appeared. The bad archaeologist would miss it.

The most exciting find was unearthed in the south-west corner of the ballcourt while following the wall.  This was a large block of stone carved in the shape of a serpent head. It measured .80 meters high 1.25 meters long, and .38 meters wide. It remains on display in the Oaxaca archaeology museum.

Me with my stone carved monster.

Twelve more students were with us.   One, who later made a name for himself in the archaeology of Campeche was Bill Foland. Another had already become a successful novelist,Vance Bourjaily. His first book, "The End of My Life," had been widely admired not only by the public, but by Ernest Hemmingway. Vance had been teaching writing at Mexico City College.  Part of his contract stiplated that he could spend the winter quarter digging in Oaxaca.

What he learned there gave him material for "Brill Among the Ruins" published in 1970. He was most kind to me in his recognition: "My use of archaeology in Part Two is not scholarly enough to warrant a formal acknowledgement to Charlie Wicke, who read the manuscript out of sheer good nature and made those technical corrections necessary, I hope, to keep it from being irritating to devoted professionals like himself. I thank him."

Vance loved to give parties. After the dig was over we kept in touch in Mexico City. Vance invited us and others from the dig to his affairs held in the elegant home that he and his family shared with Bete Ford, the American bull fighter.

Although our site was difficult to reach off the road, it nevertheless began to attract visitors in the following year of 1955 when I was no longer a student, but a faculty member of Mexico City College having received my Masters Degree.The most dramatic arrival was that of a lady from Houston, Texas. After having spent a few weeks in Mexico City exploring museums and archaeological sites, she decided to see the ruins of Monte Alban and Mitla in the Oaxaca Valley. To do so, she hired a cab with a guide to take her to Oaxaca three or four hundred miles south.

On the drive from the city of Oaxaca to Mitla along the Panamerican Highway, she caught a glimpse of nearby Yagul. A site in the midst of being excavated could not be ignored. She asked to be taken there.  While welcoming her I glanced in the front seat of the cab one of my companions from the Escuela Nacional.  The driver was his brother!

I welcomed her and showed her around the site meanwhile answering her questions. She surpised me in her knowledge of Mexico. In thanking me for the tour, she invited me to join her that evening at one of the restaurants on the city square.

At dinner I learned that Mrs. Bullington had lately become a widow. On the death of her husband, John, she found solace by immerseing herself in Precolumbian art and architecture. John Bullington had been a partner in the law firm Baker, Botts, Andrews, and Shepard which had an extension in Mexico City: Baker, Botts, y Miranda. He often flew down from Houston on business. Because she would at times accompany him, she knew the Fausto Mirandas very well.

(When a wealthy Texan wished to sell his boat, he asked the firm to sell it. Because he loved his grandmother, he had cristened it "Granma". Fidel Castro purchased it from the firm in Mexico for an historical trip to Cuba.)

The following season Bernal was called on to represent Mexico in the UNESCO Paris. Substituting for him was John Paddock who had been his assistant the previous year. Paddock then picked me as his assistant. Paddock had a musical background.  Although he played violin, he worked in Los Angeles as an arranger during the big band era. However, once he discovered anthropolgy he left southern California for Mexico.

By the following year, 1956 both Bernal and Paddock were engaged in other persuits. Bernal had filled the position of cultural attache at the Mexican Embassy in Paris and Paddock had discovered a new site, Lambcheco, on the other side of the Pan American highway and was working there. I became director of the work at Yagul.

At the close of the season I joined Mrs. Bullington in fulfilling her dream of rescue at Bonampak. We first went to Campeche in south east Mexico given that it is the closest city to Bonampac. She had in mind a stay of two weeks in Bonampac during which repairs could be made on the largest structure: that of the Mayan murals. In Campeche we contacted Raul Pavon Abreu at the local anthropological museum and Roman Piña Chan, the Mayan archeologist from nearby Merida. They gave us a list of things we would need. Bags of cement had to be carried on the backs of "bestias" of beasts: mules without pedigre. We needed drivers that knew how to mix cement and use it. We also needed sugar and needles for the Lacandon Indians who inhabited the Bonampac area. As word of our plan got around more and more asked to join us. Beatrice Barba Ahuitzin, Piña Chan's wife wished to join us as did archaeologist Francisco "Paco" Rhul and artist Edmundo Calderón a friend of Piña. Mrs. Bullington welcomed them all. At the same time she did not let any one use her canvas bathtub from Marshall Field´s.

All had to hike through the jungle except for she and I who arrived in a Piper Cub airoplane. The landing area had served the rubber trade years before. Our pilot called it the "shoebox" as it clipped off leafs on take off and landing.

The careful preparations and the help of all led to what could be called a success.

Pavon made a 16 mm. movie, which was donated to the University of Texas.

In the meanwhile, I had made application for a Buenos Aires Covention Grant to Peru. My motive was to learn more about the growth of civilization in the New World. The areas of Mexico and Peru and only they had produced a civilization. In the Old World civilzations rose in the Tigres-Euphrates and the Nile Valles. All had produced agriculure at about the same time. After the discovery one no longer had to follow the seasons in order to find food. In Mexico corn (maize) was the main crop; in Peru the potato. I wanted to learn more. When the grant came through, I flew to Virgina to say good-bye to my parents.

From there I flew to Houston. Mrs. Bullington wanted to wish me well, too. On my stop there, she introduced me to a friend. He was owner of an oil company in Peru called Ganzo Azul and kindly offered us a trip down the Amazon River in a ship "The Amazon Queen" which towed barges filled with oil from eastern low land Peru.

Then it was on to Mexico and a goodbye party arranged by Vance Borjaily.

My Passport marks the next stop as "Republica del Peru 19 January 1957." To be more precise, the "Empress of Honolulu" Canadian Pacific Airlines flight landed first at Talara, on the Pacific coast of Peru in order to refill our gas supply.

My first impression on landing at our final stop, Lima, was that the Peruvians lacked the smile and gaity of the Mexicans. My second was that I was in good hands. A gentleman from the U.S. Embassy met me at the airport. He took me downtown to a hotel. I had not expected such a formal reception. It was the first time in my life that I felt like a VIP.

With help from the embassy,I soon found a boarding house in the pleasant area of Lima called Miraflores. Frau Spornholz, a German land-lady, was in charge. She seated me at the following morning next to a fellow American. Not only was Jim Ritch a fellow American, but a fellow southener, he from Charlotte, North Carolina, I from Virgina. Furthermore, we were close to the same age and schooling. He was graduated from Duke University and went on to gain a law degree from Harvard. While at Duke he had enrolled in a course on Latin America and became captivated by it. He came to admire the professor who invited his students to parties at his beautiful home. Later on, he let the professor know that he wished to follow his footprints. The professor answered saying that he would not advise him to do so. Teaching was low paying work he explaned. The only reason that I can live this way is that I happened to marry a wealthy woman. The advice led to his law degree and his study of Roman and Latin Law. The previous year he spent in Chile with a Rotary grant doing so.

The people at the US Embassy had arranged that I report to the Casa de la Culura Peruana. When I arrived there I was met by directors Jorge Muelle and Arturo Jimenez Borja and presented with a white jacket which made me look somewhat professional. I was able not only to study pieces on view, but those in the back rooms as well. Not only did I see that ancient ceramics there, but occasionaly other anthopologists from North America doing the same as I. Edward Lanning from Columbia, David Kelley from Harvard, and Elizabeth King of the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. and Richard Schadel from Chicargo who gave me the nick-name of "Ball Court Charlie". Not all were North Americans. Ernesto Tabío, who had left Cuba for reasons political and returned only when Fidel Castro took power.

Hungery to see the highlands, Liz King her girlfriend and I took a flight from Lima to the Inca capital of Cuzco in an ancient Junkers German aeroplane. On our arrival, and no longer cooped up two happy children ran ahead of the rest. As they ran toward the airport, however, both fainted and fell to the cement. Aparently they and their parents had overlooked being at 3,700 meters above sea level.

Cuzco must be seen to be believed. A city before the Spanish Conquest, it was defended by huge stones forming a fortress above. ZXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXZ During my visit I mentioned the Bonampax experience to my mother. She was so impressed that she immediatly phoned the local newspaper. A reporter knocked on our door a short time later. This is what he wrote: " Ignacio Bernal (1910-1991), antropologo y arqueologo mexicano, investigador y profesor en la Universidad Nacional Autonima de Mexico. Nacido en la ciudad de Mexico, fue consejero cultural de la embajada de Mexico en Francia (1955-1956), delegado ante la UNESCO, director de Monumentos Prehispnicos (1956-1958) y director del Museo Nacional de Antropologia (1970-1976). Asimismo, dirigio el Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia (INAH). Sus investigaciones se ocuparon de los valles centrales del estado de Oaxaca, donde exploro los yacimientos arqueologicos de Monte Alban, Yagul y Dainzu. Maestro huisped en las universidades de Cambridge, Oxford, la Sorbona y Harvard, fue miembro de El Colegio Nacional. Recibio el Premio Nacional de Ciencias en 1969." --------------------------------------- Date of 1st passport 6 July 1953, from U.S. Embassy in Mexico City Renewed 9 June 1955 until 5 July 1957 Sept. 1, 1953 Visa from Consulate in San Antonio as Estudiante Immgrante Sept 8 Entered Mexico 1953 Av. Nuevo Leon 202 Army Reserve 19 Feb. until 18 Feb. 1958 Ernestina Larrainzar 26 A 1955 address Ingenieros #21 apt. 12 1956 to Houston for send off 19 Dec. 1956 1957 Arrive Lima Peru from Mexico 19 Jan 1957 Canadian Pacific Airlines Plane: Empress of Honolulu Fuel stop Talara. With visa from Consulado General del Peru in Mexico City, 15 Jan. 1957. New passport issued 21 Aug. 1957 renewed 5 Nov. 1959 until 20 August 1961. Left Iquitos for Brazil on 19 October 1957. Arived in Manaous 25 October 1957. Flew from Manauos for Rio with stop in Brasilia which was under construction in the red clay. Returned to Peru Nov. 1, 1957. Left Peru for Mexico 24 Dec 1957 and arrived Christmas Day. ------------------------------------


Leopold Kohr: see Wikipedia

Stevenson, Adlai: From: Diario de Yucatan, Monday 15 February 1960 Arrived in Merida from Oaxaca yesterday shortly after 2 PM in a bimotor (C-47) plane of Hacienda. Welcomed by local officials and US consul and vice consul. S. arrived at the same time as another possible candidate for the US president, Lyndon Johnson, vacationed in Acapulco. And while other possibles -- John Kennedy, Hubert Humphry and Stuart Symington converged on Fresno, Cal. The party of 7 then left immediately for Uxmal returning at 7 PM where a press conference was held a Mirador of Hotel Merida. The plane arrived 2 hour late. Perty: William Benton, ex senator from Connecticut, Dr. Carleton Sprague, latin amer expert, William McBlair, campain mgr., John W. Ford, 1st sec. of u s embassy, Carlos Margain, INAH, Charles Wicke, anthropologist from MCC, & son John Fell Stevevson.}

On Monday to Dzibilchaltun and Chichen Itza. On Tue. to Costa Rica after vist to gov. at 8:30 AM. Stevenson second trip --Excelsior Sunday 1 Nov. 1964. To Teotihuacan Sat. morning leaving from US ambassador res. With Joseph Montlor, 1st sec. In afternoon to new Museum of Anth. Met by Eusebio Davalos Hutado dir INAH, Luis Alvarez, sec. of Museum, Pedro Ramirez Vazquez, architect of Museum. Stevenson ran into Pillip Johnson in lobby on leaving. John Fell Stevenson and wife. During my visit I mentioned the Bonampax experience to my mother. She was so impressed that she immediatly phoned the local newspaper. A reporter knocked on our door a short time later. This is what he wrote: During my visit I mentioned the Bonampax experience to my mother. She was so impressed that she immediatly phoned the local newspaper. A reporter knocked on our door a short time later. This is what he wrote:

Newport News Daily Press December 31, 1960.

Local Archaeologis Escorted Adlai on Mexican Jungle Tour.

A tour of the Mexican jungles with Adlai Stevenson was one of the highlights of an archaeological expedition early this year by a young Newport News teacher.

Charles R. Wicke, 225 Pear Ave., who recently returned home for the holidays, tells how he escorted the ambassador to the United Nations on a five-day journey among isolated Mexican villages.

He was seclected for the on the strength of his experience as member of an archaeological team which has been digging out the ruins of an ancient civilization 300 milles south of Mexico City.

Stevenson was primarily interested in the social and political structure of the Mexican villages, Wicke recalled, adding that he was "a very gracious man to go along with on a tour."

After completing the tour, Wicke continued his work in the ancient city Yagul, which dates back to about 700 B.C.

In this far-flung part of the world he and other archaeologists are attempting to unravel mysteries that have plagued mankind for centuries, by delving into the tombs and markings of this recently discovered civilization.

"We're trying to unearth a history that hasn't been written," Wicke said.

"In other words -- we want to find out what happened before America was discovered."

While teaching anthrology at Mexico City College, Wicke was engaged by the National Institute of Archaeolgy and History for the exploratory work.

"We dig about three months of the year and conduct laboratory work for the other nine months," he said.

Seated comfortably in his living room in Newport News, Wicke vividly recalls the rough overland trips by mule train that carried him into nearby Mexican jungles where Indian tribes still practice customs of antoher age.

"Most people have a picture of an archaeologist a a man who spends most of his time observing," Wicke noted.

"Actually it's hard work," he said, citing some of the gruelling facets of his work at Yagul.

"We usually stay in town at night and drive out to the site of the ancient city around 8 a. m. It's hot and dusty and there's always the sun beating down on you. The work really begins when we uncover a tomb and go inside.

"That's when the delicate work comes in. After a while you lay down the pick and shovel and then you take out a camel's hair brush, trowel, or even a toothpick is used.

"If, for example, you discover a skeleton, and find a necklace on the skeleton, you take out a needle and thread and try to sew each bead back into place."

The elaborately dressed skeletons were proof enough to Wicke and his crew that a wealthy civilization existed in this isolated part of the world.

"You find skeletons with earrings, and a fancy headdress. Sometimes the legs are coered with bracelets.

When you first enter the tomb it's covered with dirt and dust of centuries of time. Although the tomb is swept clean, the items are left in their original positions. This is important for the work that comes later -- the job of deduction -- the business of trying to make heads or tails out of a weird family of skeletons and a collection of old bones."

They found pyramids build on top of one anothe, crumbling under the weight of centuries in the ancient city.

The group discovered a ball court with seats for spectators indicating that a game with a rubber ball was one of the favorite means of recreation for these peoples.

The city, believed to have started about 700 B.C. probably survived until the Spanish conquest in the year 1521, Wicke said.

It's a different and intriguing civilization," he pointed out.

But why should anyone want to dig into the ruins of an old world? What are they looking for? And why should they spend so much time exploring the past?

"We are trying to find out the basic questions that have always faced mankind," he said.

"The reasons why man carves out writings and and builds elaborate tombs and monuments to himself. And the causes of urban civilization.

"There's another more important reason. There's no denying that at our present rate of growth we're on the road to self-destruction.

We've failed to develop our ethics to the point that we've developed our atomic weapons. We lack the morality to keep thses weapons in check."

He expressed hope of correcting this "lopsided" way of life by studying man a little more. By determining how ancient civilizations grew and developed and finally died, Wicke believes a vital lesson can be learned for our own time.

Anthroplogist Given Two-Year $6,000 Fellowship

Charles R. Wicke, son of Mr. and Mrs. R.J. Wicke, 225 Pear Ave., a graduate student in antrhopology at the University of Arizona, has been awarded a two-year $6,000 fellowship by the U. S. Steel Foundation, Inc.

The award comes under the foundation's ninth annual program of aid to education which is providing nearly $3 million this year for operating and capital grants, special projets and graduate study fellowships.

Wicke received his bachelor degree from the University of Virginia in 1948 and earned his master of arts degree summa-cum laude from Mexico City College in 1954.

Before entering the University of Arizona, Wicke did graduate work in anthropology at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico for four years. He is working for a PhD at present.

His special field of interest is Mesoamerican studies, particularly the growth of ancient cities, the development of writing and the analysis of prehispanic art styles. Most of his profesional work in archaeology has been done in the Oaxaca region of Mexico.

Wicke's award is on of 80 doctoral-level graduate study fellowships disbursed by the foundation to private and public institutions in 37 states.

Langley Air Force Base near Hampton, Dover Airforce Base in Delaware, Brooks Field, San Antonio, Randolf AFB near Universal City.


Bonampak, April 6 1956, Edmundo Calderón, Roman Piña Chan & Beatrice Barba Ahuitzin de P.C., Raul Pavon Abreu, Francisco "Paco" Rhul,

To Peru 1957 return to Mexico Dec. 25, 1957

William Benton William McCormick Blair, Jr. Adlai Stevenson El Imparcial, Oaxaca, 12 Feb. 1960.[13 Feb. 1960 first French atomic bomb test]

For the past five weeks a group of eight students from Mexico City College and I have been carrying out excavations at Yagul, an archaeological site near Tlacolula. This marks the midpoint in a field season which has been blessed with the biggest budget since the college initiated work there in the winter of 1954.

In '54 the Yagul ballcourt -- similar in form to the one at Monte Alban -- was probed with a few narrow trenches in order to determine its form. Now it is financially possible to clear out the tons of earth that fill the court in order that the visitor may see its pleasing horizontal lines rather than the two amorphous mounds covered with brush. Last week five masons and their adolescent helpers were engaged in reconstruction work here while 25 men and a dumptruck cleared. Things certainly have changed at Yagul.

This season, dozens of tourists have braved the rutty road in from the highway to gaze down at the Mitla-like greca reliefs which decorate tomb 30 and to ask the two youths within, earnestly brushing the dust from a pile of ten skulls and assorted bones, to take of their hats and smile for a picture. I do not recall a single tourist from the 1954 season.

This year also, Dr. Bernal and Sr. Gamio, working for the National Institute of Anthropology and History, have uncovered huge terraces which limited Yagul's main street on one side;the ballcourt marking the other. They also continued work on a complex system of rooms and patios above the terraces. when the rubble from their work has been carried away and the terraces consolidated and repaired, when work on the ballcourt is completed, when the tomb of the grecas is repaired and the temple-mound overlooking it consolidated, Yagul will have recovered a little of its once imposing aspect.

in the near future, a well executed Yagul room in the Oaxaca Museum -- rather than the present makeshift one -- will call the visitor's attention to the site. A straight and rutless road will speed him to it. Yagul will rank with Monte Alban and Mitla as a tourist attraction for the Oaxaca area.

Those directly engaged in tourism are not the only ones to gain from all this, however. Our workers from Tlacolula are earning extra money in their off-season for farming. Those who supply us with sand and cement, transportation, food, lodging, haircuts and beer are earning extra income, too. The students are learning field archaeology. The masons' helpers also, are learning a lifetime trade. The arid and rocky land on which Yagul is being recreated is giving birth to something wonderful in different ways for many people.
Charles Wicke

Museum innagurated 16 September 1964. President Lopez Mateos adddress, Ignacio Bernal Museum director, Carlos Chavez conducted National Symphony Orchestra. Guides dressed in blue uniforms.

University of the Americas Collegian 13 November 1964 "Dr. Wicke Conducts Tour of New National Museum of Anthropology.

Close to a hundred students of the University of the Americas under the expert guidance of Dr. Charles Wicke of the UA anthroplogy department recentlytoured the new National Anthropological Museum in Chapultepec Park on Reforma.

Meeting in the entrance hall of the museum, the group was informed by Professor Wicke that the building had more than 40,000 suare meters of space devoted to the study of man in Mexico.

There the students and faculty members spent close to two hours listening to Dr. Wicke explain a few of the facets of what has been called the "largest anthropology museum in the world." Designed by the architect Pedro Ramirez Vazquez, it was worked on by over 4,000 archaeologists, anthropologists, historian, artists, artisans and draftsmen.

Going first to the Gulf Coast Salon, Dr. Wicke likened this area of Mexico, with its swift flowing rivers and fertile flood plains, to ancient Mesopotamia. Both areas with significant similarities, were the cradles of the civilizations that were later to flourish and spread throughout the areas adjoining them.

In Mexico it was the startling Olmec culture that seems to have formed a basis upon which so many later cultures were to draw knowledge and inspiration.

The Olmec room is full of the artifacts of this ancient people, masters of the art of sculptureing in both stone and jade, who were so fascinated by the jaguar that he seems to be present in the majority of their works.

A plaster copy of one of the giant heads stands in the Olmec room, while another authentic head stands outside illuminated by a spotlight. Wicke stated that these heads are thought to be portraits of Olmec leaders.

Besides their art work and the fact that they established definite ceremonial centers and villages, the Olmec people, Wicke pointed out, are now thought to be the inventors of the writing and numbering system that formerly had been credited to the Maya Indians.

The Oaxaca Room, Wicke explained, has special interest to the University of the Americas not only because John Paddock, chairman of the UA anthropology department, was in charge of the room, but also because the University has conducted field work in that area since 1952

Pointing out the intricate mosaic walls and the huge mural by artist Antonio Trejo, Dr. Wicke showed how Mitla and Monte Alban represented the great classic period in southern Mexico as it was developed by the Zapotec and later the Mixtec civilizations.

One of the highlights of the Oaxaca Room was the trip into a replica of tomb nmber 104 which faithfully recreates the burial as found by archaeologists. The fabiously rich tomb 7 is also recreated with its many gold objects scattered among the bones of its long dead inhabitants.

The Tenochtitlan Salon is highlighted by the huge Aztec calender that attracts everyone's attention. Wicke explained some of the symbols of this monolith, and pointed out that it is not really a calendar in the sense of its modern counterpart.

High on the list of interesting commentaries by Dr. Wicke in the Aztec Room were his explanations of the reproduction of the ancient city of Tenochtitlan and where the buildings of the present city stand in relation to where the ancient temples and construction stood.

Unable to see but a small portion of this tremendous museum in a few sort hours, most of the students felt that they would have to come back to spend days seeing all that had to be missed on this visit.

"The museum is magnificent!"exclaimed Richard Mitchell, Jr., of Berkeley, California. "I've never seen a better museum and I thought Dr. Wicke's comments most interesting," said Vincent Carlson from Minneapolis, Minnesota.

"This is a beautiful building and it handles so many people effortlessly. I want to come back and spend a day here," John Daniels from Hialeah, Florida, remarked.

"I can't get over how impressive the whole thing is," Ronald Galvan of Long Beach, California said. "But how does one ever get through the entire place?"

Carlos Pellicer, Hermosilla, Tabasco. Nezahualcoyotl baths. Chocolate at teatime. Headed Bellas Artes. His poetry. Museum in Villahermosa.