Don Huff Memories, May 2012
1. my earliest recollection of a classmate is of Charlie H, because he and his family lived two houses North of our house on S. Oakwood St., circa 1935; matter of fact a proof pic of that pal-ship is on top-right, page 72, of our class yearbook; little did anyone know then what would occur on Dec 7, 1941; more later about that pal-ship that stretched into the early 21st century. Incidentally, Charlie's last name was spelled 'Humphries', not to be confused with 'Humphreys' who as minister of Congregational Church on W. Maumee St. Some folks thought that minister was Charlie's granddad, but his real granddad was an Irish cop in New York City. Minister Humphreys did, however, preside at the marriage of Charlie's Dad and Mom.
2. shortly after 12/7/1941, Charlie's Dad (professor and later Dean of Mechanical Engineering at Tri-State College) was 'hired" by the Navy Dept to help design/modify war ships for WWII; but before that family moved to Wash DC, some of us in Grace Crain's 3rd grade, namely Charlie, Philip (I had already learned to nickname him Phip), and I displayed our newly found language (filled largely with four letter words) on the playground and Grace overheard our colorful exchanges -- and she promptly informed us she would duly inform each of our fathers of our colorfulness -- and she DID; I think my embarrassment (when my Dad told me she had come to the Post Office to tell him) saved me from a rather severe spanking. I learned later she most certainly contacted Charlie's and Philip's dads at the college as well.
3. and shortly after the Humphries moved out, the Bruce Warren family moved in (having outgrown the house into which the John Caris family moved into, after WWII) -- my earliest recollection of neighborliness with Bruce was when he, and his younger brother Leonard (who later was an Air Force Captain shot down over Hanoi on his very last mission before returning to US) and I would study the railroad doings, especially the steam engines, of the New York Central railroad which ran North and South along the near-Western end of Angola and the back side of our families' properties; while we 3 played an occasional basketball game, Bruce was definitely the most quiet of we 3 -- and most of our Class '51 'mates thought the same thru graduation -- but Bruce got even when he graduated from T-State with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering and thence to positions with aerospace company(s) in Calif.
4. side note: the '51 Classmates who lived on or near the two blocks that (still) are the totality of S. Oakwood Street, at any time during our 12 years at AHS, and in order of proximity to the college are/were as follows: Corky, Charlie & Bruce, myself, Veryl and Carma, and John. Incidentally, when the Bruce family moved just after WWII, they took up residence across the street from the Dick Meeks residence.
5. Charlie and I attended several classes together at Tri-State, both of us pursued and earned a degree in Accounting; while he introduced me to cigarettes during the early part of that joint venture, it was my pleasure much later (after his tour, including as Comptroller, with the John Birch Society) to answer a question from his son, "Mr. Huff, what was it like to be around my Dad while you were growing up?" -- to which I replied, must say gleefully, with the true-story of the time in Ruby Shultz' Senior Class English Course, when Ruby first asked Dorothy Deming what kind of word 'that' is -- during her silence, Charlie cupped his hand over his mouth and whispered 'Huff' to me (directly to his left and on the left side of the room, and upon getting my attention, stuck his tongue out at me -- at which I smiled, and at which Ruby noticed (ME, not Charlie, who clearly thought he was next in line to be asked the same question by Ruby, equally clearly did NOT know what 'that' is, and wanted Ruby to call someone else besides himself) -- fortunately, I'd read that chapter the night before and knew that 'that' is an adjective, said so to Ruby when she asked me instead of someone else, presumably Charlie, and the issue disappeared when she SLOWLY nodded her head with a grimace that seemed to say 'Huff, you got away with something THIS time.'
6. Does any reader to these words remember that the classmates who delivered newspapers from Ft. Wayne, whether morning or evening, always by bicycle to customers mostly on the West and South sides of Angola, were: Dave Handy, John Caris, Don Taylor (whose bike, fortunately was motorized for his longer route and further away from our joint pick-up point) and most honorable self?
7. Nearly forgot: as 7th and 8th graders, two of our 'mates worked during a few weeks at a farm along the 'old' road to Fremont (about 2 miles short of Fremont) weeding that farmer's carrot field; final products of which he sold to the company which produced/produces V-8. As you might guess, I was one of those lucky ones, and Carty was the other. One of the 'rewards' for our labors was 50 cents per hour; the other, MUCH more important, was that anyone who weeded as many as 5 rows of carrots in one 3-to-4 hour day got to ride back to Angola in the trunk of his '41 Ford, WITH THE LID UP AND WHILE DANGLING OUR FEET ALONG THE MACADAM ROADWAY. WOW! Good thing he never drove faster than 20-25 mph back to Angola. His pick-up and drop-off point was kitty-corner from my Dad's Post Office building.
8. And it is absolutely mandatory that I retell the story about Max and me; we're in Ms. Joyce Dunkinís Psychology class, and she's explaining Mental Telepathy to us -- the whole bit about glaring eyeball-to-eyeball with any one person trying to send a silent message to the other just by repeating that same message over the over until, hopefully, the intended receiver gets the message. Max and I are seated side by side, he and I agree he'll try to send me his silent message, and we proceed to glare. Joyce sees all this, puts up with it for maybe a minute +/-, and promptly writes up 5 demerit notices for both Max and I for "glaring at each other". I never did get Max's message until after class, and then he tells me he was trying to tell me that I "am an SOB". I still chuckle about all that, but think Max would rather forget about it.
9. Then there's the Curt Rathburn senior class in US Government, and the subject is Amendments to the Constitution. Way back in '51, there were only 21 amendments at that time. Curt asks the question: "Which amendment is the Congress working on right now?" or words to that effect. The only student to raise a hand -- was me. Suddenly a ruckus develops in the hall, and best I remember there also was an announcement over the loud speaker on the wall -- in any event, when that subsided, Curt remembered my raised hand, asked the question again, and I answered "well, I was going to say the 22nd" to which the other 'mates -- and Curt -- all broke out in laughter. Curt never told us the correct answer, and I still don't know -- do you? [Incidentally, do you know that Curt and his wife bought one of the two lots on S. Oakwood (which were empty in '51) after his retirement from AHS and built a very nice house on same -- he had bad case of cancer in 1992, probably gone by now].
10. If you choose to do so, you have my permission to Google 'Don B. Huff Good Morning Vietnam'; about half way down first page, is reference to and repeat of an article I wrote for, and was published by, a monthly named Military Officer Association, written few years back, about my military association in 1968 with Pat Sajak of Wheel of Fortune. One small item I omitted, intentionally, from that article is the way his family name is actually spelled; it IS pronounced as we hear it on TV, but it IS spelled with a silent D -- it's actually spelled Sajdak (which, of course, is Irish).
He was kind enough to send a personal note of appreciation for that article, and I know that he knew and remembered those days in 1968 because, when I was a contestant at the Wheel back in '03, and when we were being filmed but same did/does not show on live TV or the tape I have of same, after he congratulated the lady to my left (I was the center contestant with ladies on each side), he ran his left forefinger nail across my upper back, and with no verbalization, as if to say silently -- "hi Colonel, and thanks for the chance you gave me to help get my career started." And no, we did not get a chance to speak privately with each other on that filming day -- a story for some other day.
You may wonder how Pat and the broadcaster of Good Morning Vietnam for the movie by same name, an airman named Cronauer, fit together timewise. Cronauer broadcasted in 1965-66, and Pat did same in 1968-69.
Oh, you probably would like to know -- did I win any $$$ -- yep, $11,400 of which your former governor [of California] promptly took 7%, no questions asked and certainly without my permission. Fortunately, and due to Calif. tax law, I was able to file a claim the next year and get it back.
A possible addition to the Pat Sajak part, if you think useful, either for our 'mates themselves, and/or for their relatives (children, grandchildren, nieces/nephews, etc) --- I'll be pleased to itemize step-by-step process by which folks can get selected to be contestants on the Wheel of Fortune. (Don's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.) I presume my experience of how that process worked for me and others from Denver area is much the same, if not identical, for others in other parts of USA -- when contestants are chosen for filming in LA (or its actually in Commerce City in the old MGM filming complex). When the whole show goes to another city, such as in Portland, OR, this week or next, the process for selecting contestants is the same but the filming is done in that city. In either event, filming proceeds actual display on TV's by approx. 2 months.
Since Jeopardy is also filmed at that complex (in an adjacent studio as for WOF), and was created by Merv Griffin like WOF was, and that Merv sold the rights to both (to Sony I believe), my guess is that the selection of contestants for Jeopardy is much the same as WOF, but uses categories of answers for aspiring contestants to formulate questions, rather than the 20 words with missing letters that the WOF selection committee uses.
I guess this may be #11, or 12, or??? --- at any rate, and as Marilynn may remember my mentioning at our 35th class reunion -- an event took place in Korea involving 3 of our 'mates, namely Dave Handy, Keith Shiley, and yours truly. In 1957, all three of us were in Korea at the same time, courtesy of US Army. Dave was one of the broadcasters for USAFKN (US Armed Forces Korea Network), Keith was an engineer for USAFKN and twirled those radio broadcasting dials for the broadcasters including for Dave, and I was an auditor of non-appropriated funds (yes, there were and are such things for $$$ totally outside of anything bureaucrats in Wash DC do). Dave and/or Keith might remember more Korean language words than I do, but the one that remains in my memory is the equivalent of our 'Hello' or 'How Do You Do' -- which in Korean is: An-Yong-Hoshem-Neeka -- with a soft "a" for the first syllable, a soft "o" in the second syllable, a soft "a" sound for the "o" in the 3rd syllable, and long "e's" at the end.