Author History - These Public Service Pages

My father bought the house I grew up in in 1946, which was then still a one-room schoolhouse on a half-block (three adjacent lots) for $1200, from an elderly couple who had bought it around 1904 when it apparently first stopped being the village's one-room-schoolhouse. They had told my father that the one-room-schoolhouse was first built in 1856, and it was then roughly 19 feet by 13 feet. The wooden floor still showed the scrape marks of both 'six desks' and 'four desks' as well as the location of the teacher's desk and the potbelly woodstove that was used to heat it in winter. The children had an Outhouse (which my mother had a pet name for, which I can no longer recall) at the very south-east corner of the playground.

My earliest memories as a little kid involved my great curiosity, as is true of most really young children. I imagine I tried to ask a lot of questions, as is common.

When I was about three, around 1949, a terrible railroad accident occurred about two blocks from our house. My parents walked over to it and they took little me with them. Somehow, two railroad freight cars had coupled themselves together THROUGH a man's stomach. He was still alive and people were talking to him and him to them and there were lots of doctors and police around him. I heard all the adults around saying that the moment they would disconnect the railroad cars, he was going to immediately die. I don't think my parents stayed around long enough for that and we walked back home.

When I was about three, pretty much alone as my half-sister and half-brothers were already in High School, I spent many days sitting out in the doghouse of a chained pet, Tippy. I think he occasionally got loose and eventually got hit by a train, and my parents got a relatively similar replacement dog, Tippy Two. They may have thought that I was too little to realize it was a different dog, but I had figured it out!

When I was around four, I think it was my much-older half-sister that told me that my parents had grown up in the Great Depression, and that my mother had had to drop out of school during the Second Grade, and my father had to drop out during the Fifth Grade. I do not recall ever trying to ask either of my parents many questions after that.

I believe my half-sister also told me that both of my mother's parents had been born in Poland, and that my father's father had been born in Sweden but my father's mother (the only one of them that I think I had ever met) had also been born in Poland. At the time I did not realize the social importance of being mostly Polish around 1950.

I was aware that my parents were extremely poor, and whatever they had, they tried to save. So it was rare that my mother ever took me into any actual stores, except for Rummage Stores. Even there I was rarely allowed to spend a dime for something I wanted to play with. My weekly Allowance was ten cents, and I tended to follow their lead regarding saving it. Much later I became interested in HO trains and a new freight car was usually about a dollar, meaning about ten weeks of savings for it.

That pattern later became useful when I was around ten, as Rummage Stores sometimes had broken television sets and broken radios that they would sell for a quarter. My mother had never learned to drive so we had to carry those things on the public bus. When I got them home, I generally found the simple reasons why the TVs and radios had stopped working, like a frayed power cord or a bad vacuum tube. My mother wound up having an entire spare room filled with more than a dozen working television sets, so that whenever her TV failed, she just got a different one out to use. In my very small bedroom, I had four televisions, where I could watch all four Chicago TV stations at the same time, which I thought was cute! TVs in the 1950s were all black-and-white, and generally 7-inch or 10-inch or occasionally 12-inch screens.

I came to learn a lot about electronics in this way.

My father was clearly smarter than my mother, but there was a problem. He liked to drink immense amounts of port wine, he smoked about five packs of Camel cigarettes each day and he read old western novels. He arrived from work (as an Ironworker) every day exactly at 5:32 p.m. and food was always on the table. Even then, my mother and father rarely ever said anything to each other. They momentarily hugged when my father got home, but I do not recall ever seeing any kiss or heard any casual conversation. They certainly never had any interest in knowing how I fixed some TVs that day or anything I had learned about planets or astronomy, or learned in school, so except for "finish your peas." to me, not much conversation ever occurred at dinner.

In fact, I do not recall EVER having heard any expression of love from either of them to me or to each other, ever!

Until I was about seven, there were three or two much older half-siblings at the dinner table, but they were eight or ten years older than me, and they were soon in the Marines or married.

Immediately after dinner, my father remained in the same chair at the dinner table and got his wine out of the cabinet behind him. The earliest I remember was that half a gallon was enough each evening, but that gradually increased to slightly more than two half-gallons of port wine each evening. The amounts were much more during the entire day of a weekend. So as I got older, there was not really any point in actually trying to talk to him. He also seemed perturbed at being interrupted in reading the western novel. But after some years, I had noticed that he read the SAME page on at least fifteen consecutive days!

So my parents were never actually involved in my growing up. There were many nights that I wondered if I had been adopted, as I did not see how I could be related to either one of them. I also learned about an odd philosophical field of Solipsism, where a person believed that HE was God, and that nothing else was even real! I never actually believed that, but it was an intriguing thought!

In September 1952, I entered First Grade. I don't think my parents had ever thought about Kindergarten since that would have cost money, so First Grade was my first experience around any kids (or people) who were not a lot older and relatives! The class was hyper-active and noisy, and I suppose I must have thought that was how all kids were supposed to act. I guess I was fairly smart as I got whatever the Teacher required done really fast, and so I was usually just sitting there, ready to talk or annoy some other kids. A result of that was that after about a month or so of First Grade, the Teacher sat me on a stool in the northwest corner of our classroom, where she had put a cone-shaped paper hat on my head. I didn't recall her doing that to any other of the kids, and I think she did it to me twice. I do NOT recall it having any word written on it.

Around November 1952, about three months into First Grade, an incident occurred which I already described in the 'publicme' web-page and below. The Teacher (Miss Scott) often got annoyed by the constant misbehavior of all the 30 unruly little kids, and this day, she must have thought up an idea to 'occupy us' for the 'Numbers Hour'. We were only in First Grade and we had only barely learned how to add, but she had all us students get out a sheet of paper, on which we were to add one plus two and get the answer and then add three, and so forth, all the numbers from 1 to 100. Ninety-nine addition problems should have occupied us brats to give her an hour of relaxing.

Maybe half a minute after getting us started, I raised my hand. She thought I wanted to leave the room for the bathroom. I said, "No, I have the answer." She was NOT happy! Until then, I had never had any grown-up yell at me, but she was screaming at me. She stormed to my desk. I had my hand over my answer, but she saw my sheet of paper was basically blank. She started going ballistic in not liking to be annoyed like that. When I raised my hand, she saw the correct answer! She made some weird sounds, and then shouted that I had cheated, that I had copied the answer from someone else! She quickly realized that was impossible, as no other kids were probably up to adding the four by then. So then she accused me of stealing the answer from her desk! (But I was never near her desk!)

It's tough when a scrawny 6-year old kid gets accused like that, and I didn't even try to point out that the other kids were probably only up to adding the 4! That been the first (and possibly only) time that any grown-up had screamed at me in anger.

It had consequences. That night, my parents got a phone call to come in to the school to the Principal's Office (and to bring me). (I realized that I was in BIG trouble! I had earlier seen how my strict father had reacted when my older half-brother had OFTEN gotten in trouble and where my father's time was required. I was really scared, a lot from school but even more from my father.)

At that meeting, the Teacher went through the Riot Act to describe to the Principal (Mr. Golliher) and my parents, the problem and that she couldn't see how I "cheated" but that she KNEW that I certainly did. She apparently concluded that I somehow had seen the answer on her desk, even knowing that I had not been near her desk. This was pretty intense for a shy little kid. (Sixty years later, I still remember it all VERY vividly!)

(One good thing came out of that day! I learned that I REALLY didn't like not being treated fairly, and I have generally always tried to remember since then to try to "be fair" even when I had doubts regarding others!)

After she was done ranting, and after a pause, the Principal, a man named Golliher, (a REALLY nice man) came over to me, and quietly bent down to ask me how I got the answer so fast. That was really nice, as he didn't seem to be automatically accusing me. I told him that I knew that you didn't have to add numbers in any special order. (I think the teacher might have taught us that.) I told him that I had noticed that 1+100=101, and 2+99=101, and 3+98=101, and so on, all the way to 50+51=101. It had seemed obvious that there were 50 pairs like that, each of which equaled 101. So the answer had to be 50 * 101 or 5050. If you see the pretty simple logic of this, you can see that nothing much would have to be written down! Not because I was smart or anything, but because those particular numbers made it easy.

The next day, I was in Second Grade! For many years after, I didn't think that was a compliment, but just a way that that Teacher found to get rid of me so she wouldn't have to deal with me any more! (After all, there had already been those two days on the stool in front of the class with the cone on my head, and this was still only about three months into First Grade!)

There is a recent footnote to this anecdote! SEVERAL people who have read these foregoing paragraphs have torn into me! EACH of these individuals has accused me of having "stolen" this event from some (famous) person's life! Wow! Each has also expressed tremendous disgust at me for "having stolen that anecdote from a famous person AND still had the audacity to mention my Christian aspects!

Around 25 years after my "incident", I happened to hear a momentary comment on some PBS educational program about a similar problem and some mathematician as a kid. A few months later, the program was re-run, so I listened more carefully this time. It turns out that Carl Friedrich Gauss, the guy who I then knew was famous for his magnetism and electricity researches, was also a famous mathematician. When he was a kid, around 1784, he quickly got the answer to essentially that same problem. My impression was that he was 5 at the time, and not in school, and just doing his own studying, but I'm not sure about that.

I went to the library and checked out several Gauss biographies, and finally found one that mentioned that incident in his life. It turns out that he DID solve the very same problem, but he did it in a slightly different, and much more elegant, way. Actually, the way he used (as a little kid) is now STILL used by professional mathematicians to solve that sort of problems, so it was a LOT classier than my crude way.

Yet, these current critics tell me that statistically it is ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE for two different people to have such a similar incident, and that I should ADMIT that I somehow "stole" it from Gauss. This would be an interesting idea, but SOMETHING definitely caused me to skip most of First Grade and immediately wind up in Second Grade, and some fantasy wouldn't have done that!

Even MORE interesting to me (as I have a peculiar sense of humor) is that a couple of these people who have hurled accusations at me, have accused me of stealing the incident from a DIFFERENT mathematician, somebody named Georg Cantor, who apparently lived about a hundred years AFTER Gauss in the late 1800s! Well, not even counting me, how do these critics explain the ABSOLUTE IMPOSSIBILITY of two people having the similar experience when two of their heroes both seem to? (Pretty funny, huh?)

In all the other wild accusations they have thrown at me, attacking my character, my honesty, my Faith, and a variety of other things, each has been aghast that I "dared" compare myself with their hero (whichever one that was!). I did nothing of the sort. Actually, I see no REASON for even TRYING to do such a comparison. And, in First Grade, I had never even HEARD of Gauss or Cantor. All I did was describe what I thought was an interesting little anecdote (from MY life!!!) that fit in with this "unique perspectives" discussion. And, actually, I tend to wonder about little kids who somehow establish great "documentation" for such things. (My critics emphasize that the famous mathematicians are well documented as having done such things, where I, a mere impostor, have no such documentation. Of course, there might actually be some record of why a First Grader was suddenly promoted to Second Grade in that school's records!) (I KNEW my [poor] parents messed up in not hiring a team of Reporters to follow their little kid around!)

Finally, I would like to think that IF I had wanted to try to "impress" anyone, I would have chosen one of several "adult" accomplishments, like maybe inventing a truly advanced woodstove and then, starting with $3100, manufacturing and selling about $11 million of them, rather than something that happened when I was six. (Otherwise, I've been going downhill since First Grade!)

Around 1953, while I was seven and in Third Grade, my father apparently ASKED ME about my interest in having dozens of (used) books about astronomy, which I had gotten for ten cents each at used book stores, mostly for the attractive pictures in them. When I confirmed to him that I liked astronomy (while in the Third Grade), later that evening, a thick black book was sitting on the kitchen table. It was Duncan's Astronomy, a College textbook. As a Third Grader, I rarely could read any full sentence in it, but it certainly had lots of pretty pictures! I sometimes wondered what my father was doing with such an advanced book, as I then knew that he had never gotten past Fifth Grade and I was pretty sure that he could not understand any more sentences or concepts in it than I could! But Duncan's Astronomy became my focus, in astronomy, in learning big words (and spelling), and in learning science, such as Newton's Laws.

My parents could only afford to get me a tiny 2-inch telescope (for Christmas one year) for my major hobby of astronomy, so while in Fifth Grade, and aged nine, I built my own 6-inch reflecting telescope, which was certainly the largest astronomical telescope in that city. Neighbors must have seen me out in the yard with it, and a newspaper somehow found out about it, and a half-page story appeared about it (and me) in a local newspaper. Neither of my parents had ever seemed to even acknowledge that I had a telescope which I used on most clear evenings! During Ninth Grade, at age 13, I won the High School's Science Fair (in astronomy) and then the Regional and Sectional Science Fairs and then even the Illinois State Science Fair (in early 1960). The high school (Thornridge) even installed a Brass Plaque with my name and that accomplishment on it on the wall in their Science Building (right outside Room D-201), so I suppose that was considered as somehow important. But I never heard any attaboys from either of my parents. I always wondered if I represented a cause for bother for them of having to drive me to the various Science Fairs. Except for sitting down to the same dinner table with them each evening, my interaction with either of them was amazingly minimal. I always concluded that neither of them probably had any comprehension of the sorts of subjects which I enjoyed studying, like astronomy and repairing TVs. Oh, well!

I was never that sure that my mother actually knew all the letters of the alphabet or how to multiply, as she never made it past Second Grade, and with my father's issues, when I entered First Grade, I had some real disadvantages as compared to the other kids. But I learned really fast. I did not really learn all the letters of the alphabet but I certainly learned how to count and add and subtract and multiply. The First Grade class was constantly unruly, and the Miss Scott who tried to teach was generally continually annoyed by so many disturbances. Of course, I had no idea what school was supposed to be like, so I probably made as much noise as the next kid.

That First Grade Teacher was the first time in my life that I had ever seen a truly angry adult, very red-faced, and it was directed at me! Even now, sixty years later, the memories are intense! She stormed over to my desk, where I had my hand covering the (correct) answer. I do not recall her exact words, but she was definitely screaming at me.

She could see that my sheet was basically blank, and there had only been less than a minute from when she had given the assignment. But when I lifted up my hand so she could see my answer, she saw that my answer was exactly correct. She immediately screamed "You cheated!" and then ""You stole the answer from other kids' desks". And then ""You saw the answer on my desk". She overlooked the fact that I had never even been near her desk, and I sat near the back of the room.

Apparently, Miss Scott reported my terrible behavior to the Principal, a man named Golliher. And the Principal called my mother and asked both my mother and father to come into school.

So that evening, I got to see what the inside of a Principal's Office looked like! Me and four grown-ups! Once Mr. Golliher introduced everyone (even though that was sixty years ago, I still remember every detail of that trauma), Miss Scott started describing how I had "stolen answers" and "cheated". No one else said a word. But after she was done, I was very surprised when Mr. Golliher got up and walked over to me and bent way down to talk to me (quietly and kindly). He calmly asked me how I got the right answer. I LIKED the fact that he did not seem to be assuming that I had stolen or cheated!

I do not think either of my parents said a word all evening, except for 'hello'.

So I described to Mr. Golliher that I had noticed that the numbers 1 plus 100 totaled 101. So did 2 plus 99. So did 3 plus 98. All the way down to 50 plus 51, which also totaled 101. The Teacher had taught us that adding 2 plus 3 is the same as adding 3 plus 2, as the order of adding does not matter. So I told Mr. Golliher that I felt that I saw fifty totals which were each 101, and so the total of the whole problem had to be 5050.

For probably two minutes, no one said anything again.

Shortly after, I remember Mr. Golliher thanking my parents for coming in.

On the very next day, I was in Second Grade!

It was many years later before I realized that none of the adults in that room realized that my method would work, and I later realized that they were likely all shocked that some little brat knew some math that none of them knew as adults!

That was likely the first really clear usage of LOGIC that I had ever made. Better, I had been able to EXPLAIN to the Principal exactly how and why I believed my approach worked.

Personally, I wonder whether that single incident started my course toward a later Degree in Theoretical Nuclear Physics (which is among the most strict fields regarding applying logic carefully.)

In Second Grade, I was now in a class of students who were all nearly two years older than me, one year due to the Skipping and the other chronological due to my birthday being near the very end of the school year, so I was by far the littlest. I was also very sickly and skinny, so I was even smaller than any of them. Each year when the school took a class photo, for some reason they lined up all the kids by height. The girls were always way at the other end, but at the end of the line, I must have looked so small that I might have been the Mascot instead! When all the other kids notice that you suddenly appeared in their class, and they know it had something to do with being smart AND you are so much tinier than anyone else, a social life essentially didn't exist.

At home, the telephone was directly behind where my father sat constantly and continuously every evening and all weekend days. The curly cord of the telephone was only a couple feet long, and I recall having to 'lean over' my very drunken father during the handful of times when I ever called any other kids. As I recall, NO ONE of the two-year-older classmates had EVER called for me.

There were also a couple of other disadvantages in that. In late First Grade and the beginning of Second Grade, students learned all the letters of the alphabet and also how to start to be able to write, or at least, print. Since I skipped that period, I had some real learning disadvantages for some time.

Unintentionally, my father wound up curing that! I think my mother had told him at some time that I really liked the stars and planets in the sky, that I liked to stand out in the yard with a telescope I had made. I don't think he even ever said anything to me about this, but one day there was a giant black book on the kitchen table. I have no idea where he got it, because it was a College Textbook in Astronomy, a book that is even now still famous and regularly used! It was Duncan's Astronomy, published in 1926.

That was when I was still about seven, and was still in Third Grade. There was no way that any little kid could understand all that college stuff, especially since it included endless formulas and numbers, so at first all I could enjoy were the many photos in it. Like I said, I never imagined that my father could have ever done any more than that either!

But my life had very little else in it, except for my fixing TV sets, so I eventually started to try to even read some of Duncan's! That book definitely inspired me, and by the time I was nine and starting Fifth Grade, I had saved up a couple years worth of dime weekly allowances to buy a mail-order telescope mirror, and I built myself a pretty nice, 6-inch diameter telescope. One of the neighbors must have seen me out in the yard every clear evening and called a Reporter, as it was a big deal to everyone that a half-page story about me (and mostly about the telescope) was in the newspaper.

Back to Second Grade for a moment: In that Class were two brothers who had been born in Poland. THEY had even less friends than I did, and at that time, it was popular and acceptable to make Polack jokes about them, and nearly everyone did. Since my last name was Johnson, and I never looked Polish, no one knew that I was about as Polish as I could have been. In any case, I wound up occasionally socializing with one or both of the Polish brothers.

The advanced College words in Duncan's forced me to spend a lot of time with a Dictionary, and I learned lots of obscure words. I suspect that is mostly why I was able to win the Seventh Grade and Eighth Grade Spelling Bees, although at the Regional Spelling Bee, I will forever be unhappy with the word Rebuttal!

Between my telescope and Duncan's Astronomy, I was gradually learning more and more and more about astronomy, and I assembled a 150-page three-ring-binder notebook of all of my notes. Once I got into High School, I was expected to do a Science Project. But I did not see anything that I could do without needing to spend some money for materials, which was clearly not possible for my parents or me. I believe my older half-sister volunteered to type up all my pages of information. She said that she was tired of being a waitress and could use the practice of typing. So she did, and I had a science project. It won the School Science Fair, and then the District Science Fair, and then the Regional Science Fair, and it even won the Illinois State Science Fair (in early 1960). The High School thought that was a big deal and they installed a Brass Plaque on the wall of the Science Department in the Thornridge High School.

I never considered that to be any big deal. For the Science Fair of the following year, I centered it on a Theory of Cosmogony, a description of how the entire Universe came into existence. I had always thought that the Big Bang Theory totally abandoned all the logic of science, and I thought I had come up with a better explanation. I still consider that Theory to be one of my best ideas.

It did win the School Science Fair, but then at the District Science Fair, the three Judges were two elderly housewives and a man who drove a garbage truck. They clearly had NO idea what I was talking about at all, regarding the Big Bang! So I never got to the State that year! But that Theory is STILL one which I believe is valid! There is a web-page in this Domain, called Origin of the Universe, which describes my Theory.

If that theory is as good as I think it is, I need to consider the possibility that the rest of my life might have all been downhill after that! That might be confirming that the First Grade Addition incident might also have started me on a downward path!

There seems to be more evidence of that! In Elementary School, I was honored by being made a 'Milk Monitor' (who had the responsibility of bringing in the crate of small glass bottles of milk for all the kids in each class); and a 'Fire Escape Cleaner' (who had the responsibility of sliding down the corkscrew old fire escapes to clean them every month); I was given several pounds of liquid Mercury to take home to play with (which might explain my peculiar brain today!); and other stuff like that. I am not sure that as an adult, I have ever had such great responsibility!

In High School (Sep 1959-Jun 1963), I hated the idea of being ordered around by any Coach, so I never tried out for any team, but I WAS a member of the Chess Club! I never really liked ANYTHING in Gym Class every day! At home, I certainly PRACTICED trying to throw a football and hit a softball and such, where I always was focused on LOGIC of everything I tried. My father had even found an old basketball basket and backboard, but he used railroad spikes to nail it to a tree, about twelve feet high. My father never knew that a basketball basket was supposed to be EXACTLY 10 feet high! As a scrawny little kid, I rarely could throw a basketball that twelve-foot height!

On my FIRST DAY at Thornton High School (in 1959), my first class was Gym, and it then was Swimming. I had never even seen any boys in swimsuits before, and now there were more than a hundred naked boys in the locker room. I had no idea what was going on! IF, at THAT TIME (in 1959) I was aware that 11% of all males in the United States were and are homosexual, I wonder if I would even have stayed in the locker room or ever gone into the swimming pool! It also turned out that I was REALLY skinny and little, where I now know I had very high body density, and I always instantly sank to the bottom of the (shallow end of the) pool. So I never learned to swim as a Freshman or as a Sophomore or as a Junior. Finally, as a Senior, the Swimming Teacher was also the Swim Team's Coach, and he taught me how to do 'racing dives' where I could skid across the top surface of the water. Since I had KNOWN how to swim, and just couldn't do it two feet deep without air, very suddenly I could keep up with a friend who was ON the Swim Team, and who would do laps practicing his specialty of Butterfly. I would do FreeStyle along side him for many laps each day, only a few days after technically learning how to swim! Shortly, I even went through the Lifeguard Program, and Passed and became an Official Lifeguard (but which I never used!)

That First Period Swim class had another disadvantage! My Second Period Class was Spanish I, and I never could HEAR that teacher due to my ears having become clogged up in the pool. So I got the only terrible Grade I ever got in School, either a D or F.

Given all this, it seems amazing that ANY College would later want me as a Student, as I had ZERO extra-curricular activities. But I always loved to take tests, and I guess I set some sort of record in my scores on the (Senior) PSSC Physics Class tests. Every test was five-choice multiple choices, with 35 questions, and I guess they were considered to be hard questions, as an 'A' was usually if someone got 23 right. I believe I always got either 34 or 35 right. As I recall, the second best score was usually about 28 or 29. I suppose that probably drove me into going into Physics! I also did well on the PSAT (80 and 57 out of 80) and SAT (791 Math and 565 English out of 800) and on another major test (ACT) where I got mostly near 35 out of 35. Other than that, I really do not see why the University of Chicago even accepted me!

Neither of my parents had even got into High School, so they certainly never had any thoughts regarding College. I never paid much attention to the idea of picking any College or even ever going to College, but the virtually all White Thornridge High School had a (Black) Counselor who scheduled me to come into his Office. He seemed to decide that I should choose to go to Grambling College (an entirely Black College, and not having much to do with Physics) even though I was a White kid! I think my parents were not happy with his choice (I don't know if their concerns had anything to do with the fact that I probably would have been the ONLY White kid on Campus. I think their concerns were because Grambling was so far away and it would have cost much more in Room and Board) so I was given three other choices, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cal Tech, and the University of Chicago, all very expensive Private Colleges that my parents could not possibly afford. Of the three, my parents chose U of C, entirely because I could live at home and commute every day and not have the added cost of a Dorm Room!

Briefly, it looked good for my parents as the University of Chicago decided to give me a Scholarship of 1/2 Tuition and the Illinois State Scholarship Commission also decided to give me a Scholarship of about 1/3. This would have caused my parents to only have to pay for about 1/6 of my Tuition, and nothing for Room and Board since I would live at home and commute the 12 miles each way each day. My parents were briefly happy that they could afford me! But when U of C learned that I got the ISSC scholarship, they said that I did not need all of theirs and they reduced it to about 1/4. And at the same time, when ISSC had heard that U of C had given me a generous scholarship, they informed me that I did not need theirs at all! So, just before school was to start, my parents suddenly learned that they had a VERY expensive kid! But I lived at home and ate at home and I worked part time at Sears for the entire four years, and they somehow managed. Such subjects never came up in any family conversation, nor did any other subjects. Neither of my parents could possibly have understood any sentence I might ever say about Advanced Physics, and none of us really liked any sports, so except for the daily hamburger at lunch, we never had anything to talk about!

Upon entering U of C in 1963, there were about two weeks of 'Placement Tests' so they could determine what level of Course they should schedule for each student in each subject. There were some really smart kids who 'Placed Out' of virtually all subjects, and so they received their Undergraduate Degree after a single year of attending a few classes! I Placed Out of some, but that just caused me to have more Advanced classes, especially in Physics and Math, and I still required four years of attending classes (and commuting 12 miles each way every day) to get mine. But the Placement Tests had some 'interesting' incidents! There was a 'physical ability' group of tests. They were hilarious! They were done in the Fieldhouse.

One had the student throw a basketball against a wall about 15 feet away, as many times as possible in a minute. Many of the students only scored ONE, as their first throw was so bad that the ball bounced far away and rolled across the Fieldhouse! Another had the student (try to) throw a football through a automobile tire hanging from a rope. Again, most of the students scored ZERO or ONE. At home, I considered such things as CHALLENGES, and so I threw my ten throws ALL of which went through the tire (but one of my throws DID touch the inside of the tire as it went through). I was sitting on the Fieldhouse floor after that, waiting for the next Placement Test, and a big hand grabbed me by the top of my right shoulder and lifted me up! Sort of scary! It was the man who was overseeing those Placement Tests. Once he got me standing, he simply asked me if I wanted to be the 'Starting Quarterback of the University of Chicago Football Team'! (I actually had not even realized that U of C HAD a football team, but I later learned that they ALWAYS LOST, and usually really badly). I would never have agreed to that in any case, as it does not appeal to me to have others trying to hit me and hurt me, but I told him that I lived at home and commuted, and worked at Sears every evening and therefore could not. After having watched how bad the other U of C eggheads were at throwing a football, I understood WHY he wanted to have someone who actually could throw a football!

Apparently, U of C only ever played Junior College teams, and still always lost! I heard rumors that they even sometimes played against some High School teams! Since I commuted to school and worked at Sears twenty miles away, I never attended any U of C sports contest. I suspect that it might have been very entertaining to watch!

I had Graduated High School in 1963, a few days after I had become 17 years old.

University of Chicago Sep 1963-Jun 1967.

A few weeks after I started attending Physics and Math classes at U of C, I was in DEEP water! My high school Physics Class had never even mentioned Einstein or Bohr or Fermi or any of the brilliant things they figured out, some of which had been done in the Basement of the University of Chicago, where I later wound up doing experiments! So I was studying so hard that my brain got bent (I am sure of that!) but I learned what I was supposed to learn. I am not entirely sure that any 17-year-old kid should be taught how to Design and Assemble an Atomic Bomb, but here I suddenly had all kinds of fascinating knowledge like that. As it happened, the University of Chicago OWNED Argonne National Laboratory, and one day I drove out to check it out. My Physics Student ID Card was amazing! I found a Commissary Building where I walked in and said that I needed to 'pick up one gram of U-235'. The ID Card caused the guy to go in a back room and bring back out a big block of lead! I guess it did not weigh as much as I did, but it might have been close! He pushed some papers toward me to sign. I had not imagined that a UC Physics student could do virtually anything! I chickened out and did not sign the Receipt and did not take the block of lead with the U-235 inside it! But, being a 17-year-old kid, and now believing that I KNEW how to make an Atomic Bomb and realizing that I might even have ACCESS to enough U-235, I started some 'silly ideas' for a few weeks! I thought I might be able to build a small Atomic Bomb in the back of an old pickup truck (which would have closely resembled the Hiroshima Little Boy bomb) It was also a rather simple structure, called a 'gun-style' bomb which 'fired' two chunks of U-235 at each other to create a 'super-critical' mass, which could then detonate as a nuclear weapon. On a map, I even located a very desolate area in western Utah where a very long straight dirt road existed between two very large Military Areas. I figured with no towns or houses remotely near, no one would get hurt if my experiment worked! But I really could not get over the fact that Argonne was willing to give a 17-year-old kid U-235 with no questions asked! I was never absolutely sure (experimentally) if MY bomb would have worked, but I had unlimited curiosity regarding whether I had learned everything taught to me at the U of C. I eventually decided that I really did not need to know that experimental result! Can you IMAGINE how much trouble I would have gotten into by trying such an experiment in 1963? I'd probably still be in some Maximum Security Prison! (It is VERY different today, where safeguards are far better than in 1963, and even if someone knew how to make such a bomb, getting the materials is virtually impossible. The Countries of Iran and North Korea know this!

My life was really just studying, studying, studying, driving and working at Sears to earn $1.65/hr. Not much in the way of sports or a significant social life!

But, related to that, I often had an hour in the Quadrangles between classes, and a fellow student had the same situation. So, a couple weeks into the first classes at U of C in September, 1963, he convinced me to walk over with him to a Dormitory Building where a really nice Pool Table was in the basement. He taught me the rules of 8-Ball and we played. One of my Physics Professors was regularly using billiard balls in his descriptions of how atoms and electrons interact. He even would mention 'English' and 'backspin'! So I was getting a real life chance to see what he was talking about. Conservation of Energy, Conservation of Angular Momentum now were having REALITY in my life! I was learning all sorts of 'trick shots' and getting really good at making even difficult shots on the Pool Table.

So a few weeks later, as I was alone and 'pushing balls around', a guy was sitting there, watching. After a little while, he asked if I wanted to play a game. I had generated INFINITE CONFIDENCE and I was ready! But he had to explain to me the rules of Straight Pool, or 14-1 Continuous, and the game was to be 150 balls. Out of stupidity, I offered to Break, and I blasted the balls like in 8-Ball. I never got another shot! He sank 150 balls straight and won 150-0. I asked my other friend to 'teach me Straight Pool' so I learned how NOT to disturb the balls during a Break, except to comply with the Rules. I still always lost to my 'professional friend', but I actually was usually in the game, and even got a shot or two!

He apparently thought I had potential, as he chose to teach me hundreds of 'special shots'. For example, one day, he told me that 'next week you are going to do this' and he demonstrated. Only the cue ball on the table, and he standing at the Head of the Table. He stroked the ball and lifted his left hand up on top of his left shoulder. The cue ball went down the table, and due to ferocious topspin, FLEW back toward him. Very impressively, the cue ball plopped into his waiting hand. He told me that I would NOT be allowed to move my hand around. The next week, I showed him the required trick! He mentioned that it is occasionally useful when some competitor is being a jerk, standing near the table, where you can 'clip his left ear', OBVIOUSLY ACCIDENTALLY. (I never had to use that trick in my later games).

He once required me to place a postage-stamp-sized piece of paper on the table BEFORE every shot, and the cue ball HAD to stop ON THE TINY PIECE OF PAPER. (Not always, but I often could do that within an inch or two. This is IMMENSELY useful in ALL Pool Games! Now, as an old man, I have to realize that my opponent in a game on a Bar Table might spend many hours every day making shots. If I am not sure if I can make a shot, then I DO always find some really nasty place to hide the cue ball after my shot. Most of my opponents as an elderly man eventually say 'You are the luckiest guy I have ever seen, as I NEVER have a clear shot at anything!' Such players have NO idea that the skill in the game extends so far above them! I have even applied my strange sense of humor to 'drag out' a game, rarely even TRYING to sink a ball, unless it was a real Duck that I could not miss. The opponent would be having to try multiple bank shots just to get a clear view of any of his balls. I ALWAYS won! At a Bar, I would usually put ONE quarter on the table around 7 p.m. when we might arrive, and then play 'till closing' on that quarter. ONCE I screwed up, around 1987, where I made a bonehead move around 10 p.m. and I lost a game. It was then motivation to make sure I was never that careless again afterward.)

A guy I worked with at Sears around 1964 really thought he was awesome at Pool, and one Friday, he talked me into meeting him at a local Pool Hall for some games. When I got there, he first announced to me that we would play Straight Pool, apparently expecting me not to know what he was talking about. He then said that we would play to 50, and that he intended us to BET 50 cents per ball. I told him that I NEVER bet, on anything. He was so adamant that he would not play unless I was willing to bet (where he clearly assumed that he would win!) I finally caved in, for the ONLY TIME in my life that I ever gambled on Pool. I won 50-2 but he NEVER PAID ME the $24 he lost in that game.

Regarding gambling and Pocket Billiards: The incredible friend who taught me EVERYTHING about the game, one day invited me to the Student Union to a match he was to play there. The opponent was from George Washington University, where he flew in just to play the match and then flew back home. They played Nine-Ball, a game that is virtually always gambled for. For that reason, I rarely ever played nine-ball! Except for poker chips! In bars, if they get away with gambling, they usually play Nine-ball for a quarter a point, usually six points a game, in a minute or two. My friend's Match was for $100 per point, in other words usually $600 per game of about a minute! Another friend and I were watching, and we were pretty sure that our friend was quickly up around $4000, but by the time limit, we thought he had won around $2500.

Wow! A few days later, my 'teaching friend' told me that he paid for his entire U of C education and housing by winning at Pool, and he told me that he thought I probably could also pay for my education there. I told him that I had a thing against gambling, so I couldn't, and I also told him that I would be too scared to make some of the shots I had seen him make. He never had a thing about me not gambling, but I suspected that he felt I was wasting a talent!

I WOULD have loved to have beaten him ONCE at Straight Pool, and I came moderately close a few times, but never did!

I have always considered Pool to simply be Applied Physics. I often would LOVE to study a Table to figure out the BEST shot. Opponents in Bar games would often get impatient, but most of them must have eventually realized that I actually was DOING SOMETHING during my pauses, since I never lost! Oh, well. Some of those people would sometimes ask me between games to 'show a five-cushion-natural shot' which suggested at least such people had a glimmer that I had some skill! But if you can figure out the Physics, all you then have to do is not screw it up.

I Graduated from the University of Chicago in 1967.

Purdue Physics Graduate School 1967-1969

I was pretty much sick of going to school so I never even gave any thought to pursuing an Advanced Physics Degree. But lots of Colleges were apparently aware of everyone the U of Chicago Graduated, and my parents' mailbox was often full of invitations toward an Advanced Physics Degree somewhere. My girl friend at the time and my mother 'ganged up' on me that summer of 1967 in reminding me that IF I would ever LATER want to pursue a Masters, I would probably forget lots of that complicated stuff and I would probably have to take lots of remedial classes. SO, entirely to satisfy them, I mailed in the Form that Purdue University had mailed to me. The Form DEMANDED that I 'include a photograph' and other mandatory things which I intentionally left out, and I intentionally WAITED until mid-August before mailing it in, just to make sure that Purdue would NEVER accept me! So I thought I was safe! But a few days later, a letter arrived from Purdue, where they APOLOGIZED for not immediately being able to give me a Teaching Assistant job, because Classes were starting in just a few days, although they did virtually pay for all my Tuition. I drove down the hundred miles to Purdue, with the entire intention of somehow getting out of any commitment, but apparently Purdue REALLY wanted to have a University of Chicago Graduate in their Graduate Physics Program!

Since Purdue was paying me to be a TA and not charging me for Tuition, it was hard to argue against staying there. My apartment rent and food and gasoline were all being paid!

However, even though the Purdue Graduate Physics Program was allegedly ranked in the top ten, I was immediately and continuously disappointed in it. I guess that having received my Undergraduate Degree from the University of Chicago, which was ranked IN THE TOP THREE, Purdue was a substantial step downward. However, there was another enormous difference between the two Universities' APPROACHES to Physics (in my opinion). At Chicago, it was assumed that every student could do any and all the math, and so all they seemed to try to teach was the CONCEPTS. Purdue did not seem to care if the students learned the concept, as long as they got THE EXACT CORRECT MATH ANSWERS. This difference was obvious in both my own education and that of the students I was TA for. At Chicago, in an Exam, if you SET UP THE PROBLEM PROPERLY, you got full credit, and so it was never really even necessary to 'do the math'. After all, you never could have gotten into U of C if you were not awesome in math! But at Purdue, EXACT CORRECT MATHEMATICAL ANSWERS were all that mattered! Actually UNDERSTANDING a problem to set it up properly (the way I had been taught at U of C) was irrelevant to the Professors at Purdue! If you did not get the EXACT correct mathematical result, you could expect less than half the credit for that problem. In one of my first Exams at Purdue, I probably got the first ZERO EVER! I had answered as I would have at U of C, and set up the logic and the equations, and then moved on to the next problem. At U of C, I would have received a 100 on that exam, because I certainly understood the problem and what was necessary to solve it. But I received a ZERO at Purdue since I did not provide the MATH ANSWERS to any of the problems! Sort of funny! My attitude toward the Purdue Graduate Physics Program also dropped to zero!

The same Purdue attitude applied to the students I TAed for. I got in very deep trouble over that. In one of my classes, when I graded the papers, there was one (boy) who turned in a virtually blank sheet of paper, but he gave the EXACT RIGHT MATH ANSWERS to some VERY complex problems. It seemed obvious to me that he had simply COPIED his answers from another student, due to all the calculating that would have been required to solve some Newtonian gravitation problems, so I gave him 15 out of 100 for a total score. Unfortunately for me, there was a girl in the same class who covered her paper with the correct formulas and correct calculations (as all the other students had done) but she made a math error in a power of ten, where her answer was correct, except that it was a billion times too small. I saw that she had fully understood the problem and even did all the correct math, except for that single error. I believe I gave her a 95 out of 100.

I was called in to the Administration Building where an Inquisition was held! A table with seven of the Deans of the University interrogated me (the students were NOT present). Their conclusion was that I had been ABSOLUTELY WRONG in both cases (unanimously). They ORDERED ME to never make such an error again! In order to remain a Student and a TA, I had to agree to that!

IF my attitude toward the Purdue University scholarly attitude could have dropped any lower, it did.

I discovered that I related to students REALLY well in my TA assignments. A few weeks after the start of a new Section, I showed up at my classroom, and all the seats were full and a dozen extra students were sitting on windowsills and on the floor. The extra students were not really 'mine' but students who had heard that their TA did a good job of teaching the subject.

One particular day, I called Roll and was ready to do something useful. But when I went to the Blackboard, I found that I had NO chalk and NO erasers! I only hesitated a second and I went out of the room and I entered the next classroom, to swipe a few pieces of chalk and a couple erasers. So I got back pretty quickly. However, as I was putting the chalk and erasers into the tray, there were already a whole bunch of chalk and erasers there! I turned to the class to see a bunch of smiles! 'They GOT me!' I mentioned to them that I had interrupted a test in the other classroom, and they LOVED that!

In any case, I definitely BONDED with my students. They clearly paid attention to whatever I was doing. This resulted in they getting 'school record' high scores on the standardized tests that all the other Sections also took. In fact, an amazing number of them got nearly PERFECT SCORES on those Standardized Tests! Which resulted in me getting into trouble again! The Purdue Administration was apparently keeping their eye on me, and again I was called in for another Inquisition. This one was about their deciding that I had somehow CHEATED to enable my students to get such amazing scores. I certainly assured them that I had NOT 'stolen the test results' but I thought my best defense was in asking them WHY I would have wanted to do that? I asked them if they thought I had been 'stealing answers' regarding MY OWN (Graduate) Exams, and I assured them that I had not been doing that either. But I later learned that MY Section had 'set a new University record for average scores on standardized tests, EVER, in Purdue's entire history, in any subject taught at Purdue'. I wonder if that is still true 45 years later! In any case, my students discovered four 'suits' standing in the back of our room for a few weeks after that. Of course, I chose to TELL THEM WHY the suits were there, that THEY had set a University Record on the Standardized Tests, and that the suits were there because the University had decided that my students could not really be that smart and that they were going to try to prove how I was doing something dark to enable them to get good grades. I KNEW that my little speech would offend the suits, but that it would also MOTIVATE my students to do even better (and they did!)

The Administration called me in again about that matter, to get me to explain why so many 'extra students' were in my classroom every day, such that their suits (NOT their description!) had to stand for an hour! I asked the Administration to ask those suits (NOT a description I used at that time!) if they learned some Physics in my class. I suggested that if any of the four said YES, that might have explained both the extra students (from other Sections) AND my studednts amazing Standardized Test Scores.

Purdue seemed to back off harassing me after that. I don't think that I had been called into the Ad Building ever again after that.

After two years, around May 1969, my Counselor Team began calling me in for meetings to discuss my upcoming Masters Degree. They all went apoplectic when I told them that I had decided that I did not want the Degree! It really had to do with the incredible differences between U of Chicago and Purdue, but I tried to apply some discretion to not really describe it that way to them. After a few meetings, they TOLD ME that they had decided to AWARD my Degree anyway! I wound up having to DROP one class (but I still Audited it to complete the requirements) just so they could NOT force me to take the Degree!

There actually was one new factor in my decision. I believe that it was in May 1969 that President Nixon went on TV to announce that he was changing the rules! Prior to that, ALL GRADUATE STUDENTS were automatically EXEMPT from the Military Draft. But America was killing off many thousands of young men every year and they needed more cannon fodder. As I watched Nixon on TV, I was SURE that he was going to mention that Graduate Students in Physics would still be exempt, but his speech said exactly the opposite! He SPECIFICALLY announced that 'even Graduate Students in Physics were no longer exempt'! It was almost as though Nixon had said my personal name on TV!

So, overnight, I lost my 4-F and became 1-A and I went downtown Chicago for my Physical Exam for the Military. I clearly easily Passed the written part and also passed the physical tests, and I started realizing that there might not be anything that was going to keep me from being sent to Viet Nam. I KNEW that I would never hold a gun or fire it at any human, so I figured that should start planning to be in some Military Prison very soon.

Out of desperation, I called my Local Draft Board. I tried the 'Graduate Student in Physics' but was immediately told that would no longer matter. As an afterthought, the Draft Board guy mentioned that the ONLY thing that could keep anyone from being sent to Viet Nam was IF THEY TAUGHT SCHOOL IN OUR DISTRICT. I suddenly realized the value of that Brass Plaque with my name on it on the wall of the Thornridge High School, and around 15 minutes later I showed up at the high school, and at Dr. Shouse's Office who was head of the Science Department, to ask if they might be hiring. Somehow, I think they were not, but Shouse certainly pulled a lot of strings to hire one of his FAVORITE STUDENTS. The School Administration was against the idea, because 'I did not know how to teach' since I had never taken Teaching Courses. Shouse got them to agree to hire me in August 1969, based on my Vow to TAKE all the required Teaching Courses during the next four years.

This incident may have been incredibly important. In my various Researches, I was pretty sure that I had figured out (by summer 1969) an extremely unique method of how to 'cause one or a hundred or possibly even a million people to promptly die' without any guns or bombs. I believed that I might have been able to cause an entire village or city or army of people (of enemy) to simply fall over dead, relatively simultaneously. I am SOOOOOO glad that I never had cause to find whether my idea worked or not. Imagine if I had been right, that every political leader might then be able to cause millions of adversary people to suddenly die. Would anyone be left alive after that? What a horrific idea to foist on the world! And IF I had been sent to Viet Nam as cannon fodder, I very likely might have decided to tell the Pentagon or DARPA about my system, rather than being expected to carry a gun or to sit in a prison cell for years. So the fact that Thornridge High School bent some rules to get me hired as a Teacher, they may have kept a really dangerous idea from ever getting out. I am personally hopeful that no one will discover that very weird and odd technology until after the year 2075, or later. It is so absolutely different from any existing technology that I hope that might be the case. If someone discovers it sooner, I truly fear that might be the end of all humanity.

Teaching Science at Thornridge High School 1969-1973

As it happened, I was apparently a pretty good Teacher, and during my Second and Third year of teaching Physics, so many students requested Physics that I had to Teach a General Science Teacher (Charlie Weichern) on how to teach Physics. In my LAST semester teaching there, I finally got to MY LAST required Teaching Course, that of the Student Teaching. So late in January 1973, on the last Friday of the Semester, I announced to the students in each of my classes that they would have a Student Teacher for the rest of the year. The following Monday, my joke was found out, as I 'introduced myself' to each of my classes as a Student Teacher. I pointed to the back of the room, where Charlie Weichern was standing, and I explained to the classes my story and that I HAD TO PASS student teaching, and HE would be my Judge. Most of the students already knew that I had taught Charlie how to teach Physics in the previous year. So I added 'I better pass!'

The First Earth Day, April 22, 1970

The first year that I taught High School science was from September 1969 to June 1970. In April 1970, inspired by Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring a few years earlier (1962) a few College people thought up Earth Day. It was originally planned to be celebrated on March 21, the Spring Equinox, but it was decided that too many College students were on Spring Break then, and April 22 was chosen for a public celebration. It was decided that they would somehow find knowledgeable scientists to give speeches on that day.

It was a Wednesday. A few days earlier, someone came to the Science Department of our Thornridge High School (a big school with about 30 science teachers) to try to recruit speakers. Being an absolutely unknown and unpublicized event during the middle of a school day, I don't think that any of the older science teachers volunteered, but I was already concerned about the Earth's Environment and my daily schedule happened to have my Lunch hour and then my Preparation hour where I figured I could drive over the few blocks to Dolton Park where they had decided to do the Earth Day presentation, which was within a mile away from the High School, so I volunteered. I was the ONLY volunteer from our High School. The First Earth Day was an amazingly disorganized and unpublicized operation, and I do not think that anyone contacted me again regarding any details of what to do! So I improvised with a modified high school science lesson and I headed off to Dolton Park on the appointed day. I sort of expected to see some large crowd of people in the Park, but there were essentially only the usually families on picnics and playing ball. Dolton Park is pretty large, but I soon found about six other 'lost souls' who had also volunteered to speak, mostly retired men, and NONE of them who were Scientists or Teachers. None of us had been given any information about WHERE to go or what to talk about. As far as I could see, I was the ONLY actual Theoretical Physicist in the group, and the only one of us who had been educated at the University of Chicago (and the ONLY actual Scientist!) We decided that we should NOT stay in a small group, so we spread out to all over Dolton Park to be able to talk at the same time. As I recall, the older men just stood on the ground, but I was the youngest (24) there and I found a Picnic Table to climb up on to stand on. I figured that I might be more obvious then to anyone who might have come that day to Dolton Park about Earth Day!

I don't think I ever had more than about eight people listening at any one time, and some of them were the picnicking families! But I gave my 'Earth Day science lesson', actually TWICE over just under two hours. I had arranged with a friend teacher at school to fill in for me if I was late getting back, but I made it back on time for my next class!

Over following years, Earth Day became a big deal, but that First Earth Day was about as irrelevant (at least in Dolton, Illinois) as could be. I strongly suspect that I MIGHT have been the ONLY true scientist, a Theoretical Physicist, anywhere, to have given an Earth Day speech that day. There might have been Professors on some College Campuses, but not many true scientists that First Earth Day, world wide!

We just celebrated the 45th anniversary of the First Earth Day (in April 2015), and I noticed that NO REPORTERS had ever tried to find me for any comment! I suppose that the major Chicago newspapers, the Tribune, the Sun Times, the American and others may not have even sent any Reporters out to Dolton Park that day in 1970 (as I suspect I would have noticed if any Reporter was there and such a Reporter probably would have asked me questions after my lesson). So it might be that there is no Archival record that I spoke that day! Oh, well!

I suspect that in 2015, all those old men of 1970 are probably now long dead, so I wonder how many other actual First Earth Day speakers are still around today!

Significant lifetime Possessions

In my entire lifetime, I don't think I was ever able to SELL anything! So even though I worked at Sears for four years (in back rooms), and then later Teaching for four years, and then my fireplace manufacturing company, which was originally intended to be a world-wide grand total of ONE fireplace, for my own three-story 1896 farm house, I never needed to try to SELL anything. Functionally, my JUCA Super-Fireplace company was non-profit but even without EVER doing any advertising, there was so much word-of-mouth bragging by the few people who had visited my cozy warm house in the middle of the winter, who had each tried to talk me into building 'another' fireplace for them, just like mine, amazing numbers of people soon were showing up in our 300 foot-long gravel driveway at our farm, and they all were surprisingly aggressive at trying to get me to make 'another' fireplace for each of them! That resulted in amazing 'sales volume', even though I had sold all of them at exactly $365.08, which is what the MATERIALS had cost me for the first three JUCAs I had made for others. Volume purchases reduced my costs, and since I still was NOT taking any money for my own labor, JUCA soon started making significant profit. But it all worked out that I never wound OWNING many things of significant cash value. Since I have always admired the life of Jesus, and He certainly COULD have amassed great wealth but He chose not to do that, I have been comfortable with that idea. There is no evidence that Jesus EVER OWNED more than He could carry, during the three years of His Public Ministry, and I think my situation always aspired to be that prosperous materially!

Material possessions

The importance of animals in my life

Adversities in my life

Everyone has adversities in their lives. I certainly have had my share.

When I was walking home from Grade School at around age eight, a fifteen-year old neighbor punched me really hard in the stomach and I laid on the sidewalk for many minutes. It was the only time (so far) that anyone has ever physically attacked me.

While I was in College, and around 17, in summer 1967, I was dating a really cute girl who was distantly related to my uncle who lived on the west side of Chicago. On a date one night, we have an intense argument and I was REALLY angry. I was driving home eastbound on 26th street in my Ford convertible when a light turned red, around 2 a.m. While I was waiting for the light to turn green, a young black man walked out to stand right in front of my car. Two friends of his walked up to each side door of the car. It was probably wonderfully lucky that I had just had a ferocious argument with my girl friend, as that might have saved me! I grabbed the shirt collar of the black guy who had come up to my door and I wailed on his face with the hardest fist I have ever made. As I recall, after that one hit, he disappeared and I never saw him again. His two friends came around the car and I remember hitting one of their faces with another punch. I do not remember ANYTHING more of that evening, even how I somehow drove the twenty miles home. But the next morning, I woke up in a lot of blood in my bed, and on my hands, although I seemed to be fine, except for bloody knuckles on both hands. My mother was really upset that I could not explain the blood or what had happened, and I imagine that she had to clean my bedsheets a few times. Since I did not remember much, I was really worried about what might have happened. That was in an era before most people had guns like today, otherwise I might have been shot dead on 26th street that night! But I was troubled by whatever had happened. In the newspaper, there was a brief story that there had been a 'gang fight on 26th street' but no other evidence of me being there ever existed.

I had been able to buy that 56 Ford convertible because it had been in an accident and the passenger front corner was dented, so it was cheap enough for me to buy. Two guys in Harvey called me over to a vacant gas station and they INSISTED to me that I 'needed to have it fixed with body putty. They were really aggressive, and I had just gotten paid from Sears so I had the $40 they insisted they needed to fix my car. They insisted that I pay them up front, but then they convinced me to go to a nearby McDonalds while they worked. When I arrived an hour later, my car was still dented and they were gone. I had been cheated.

A few months later, I was a Graduate School Physics student living in Lafayette, Indiana, without a telephone. I had to walk to a phone booth about two blocks away from my apartment to call that same girl. We somehow got into another argument. I guess during that summer, my temper was not well controlled, as I sort of 'dismantled' the phone booth, which I otherwise had thought was impossible to do.

Chevrolet was aggressively advertising a beautiful new car, the 1970 1/2 Camaro, which was daily shown in TV commercials as a red sports car. Up to then, I had never been able to afford anything more than a $325 used car which had had an engine fire, so this was my FIRST NEW CAR. I was saving every dime I could from my new job as Teaching High School Science at Thornridge High School in Dolton, IL. By the end of April, I had saved enough to CUSTOM ORDER my car, which I then completely paid for, so that it would arrive about a week before the end of the school year. After it arrived, I was sick of trying to teach brats who could not read or write, so I had decided to permanently move 'out west'. I had NO money, as I had used it all to be able to order the car. So I bought a pup tent and sleeping bag, and even decided to unbolt the passenger seat (from the absolutely brand new car!), and I filled the trunk with a can opener and several hundred cans of food I liked. I headed out west the day after school was done, centered on a government program called the Golden Eagle Pass, which cost me $20 but enabled me to ENTER every single National Park and National Monument for free and also it provided FREE tent space. My summer was financed!

I encountered a number of travelers in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and wound up caravaning with a dozen vehicles. As a young buck with a beautiful new car, I liked to 'zoom', but one of the cars in the caravan was an elderly couple who drove down the Interstate at 45 mph, and another was a compact car which was towing a trailer which carried a huge motorcycle. This last always slowed down to 30 mph on steep mountain roads. In any case, I was getting frustrated and I asked the group if I might 'drive on ahead' and we would meet later in a little town near Yellowstone called Cody. Keep in mind that just days earlier I had been teaching High School near Chicago, so I was fairly presentable. For a while I drove alone and I took a side trip to Devil's Tower, which was amazing. Later, I stopped for gas in a tiny town called Tensleep. While I was getting gas, I heard the sheepherders there laughing about 'shearing some longhairs' the day before. I was glad that no 'longhairs' were riding with me then! But one began to ride with me the next day, and we got to Sheridan several hours before the rest of the caravan was expected.

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