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INTERVIEWS AND CONVERSATIONS
PRO:  Paul Russell Oram
NSO: Nancy Susan Oram
DRO: Dorothy Ruth Oram
DPO: David Paul Oram
PAH: Paul Allen Hoy
DSH: David Scott Hoy
[June 18, 2001
NSO: Okay. What I wanted to ask you about was your work when you were doing patents, and particularly the ones for the government, and so forth. And you've told me the story before, but I won't get the details right.
PRO:  Well, I wasn't working on patents per se, like you put it there. But I worked at Marchant, and I was an expert in springmaking. As a machinist, but I was an expert at springmaking, and my boss knew that. And when one day I saw him standing on the side looking over at our department, and he had an admiral with him. You know, he had gold braid all the way down his arms, both arms. And so finally he come over, and he introduced me. He said, "I want you to meet Paul Oram." He says, "He's got more savvy about springmaking than anybody west of the Mississippi River." He could say that. It was true, because Marchant was the best expert -- the got the "E for Excellence" [award] from the Navy for producing stuff for the war effort. And they were the most outstanding plant this side of the Mississippi River to do that.
Well, anyway, this fellow told me -- what they had done, they had captured the sub pins at Bremen at closing out -- they closed in in Berlin, they had captured these sub pins, and they found out how it was that the subs, German subs, were able to just lay just near the surface of the water and recharge all their batteries, and do everything out of sight, still out of sight, only periscope depth, and so on and so forth. That was something that's part of the war that everybody knew about later.
Anyway, he said, "But we can't make them work." This admiral said, "We can't make them work." So he said, "If you -- " We talked a little bit back and forth, back and forth. I said, "Well, I can try and do whatever I can for you. I'll be glad to do it." "Well," he said, "I'll come by tomorrow at 8 o'clock if you could -- " I came to work at 8 o'clock. And he says, "You bring whatever equipment you need of yours." I took my toolbox like the one out there in the office, and I took spring weighing scales, and a couple other things and threw them together, and he got me in this big limousine driven car, and we went over to the Hunter's Point.
And when we got in there, why, it wasn't hard to figure out. It was just some mechanical methods there, and you could see that it needs spring works. So I just put a bar in the lathe there, and wound up some spring wire, and clipped it off of a cutters, and made a couple of extension springs, and then a couple of compression springs that would fit in the mechanism. And they weren't strong enough, so I took a little heavier wire, different -- and wound it a little tighter, and so on, until I got to whatever would work.
Why these were these -- what this was, was the snorkels. These snorkels would run up, and they would breathe air into -- they could take on air, replace all the air in the submarine, and they could charge their batteries. But to do it, they had to have this device run up and down. A snorkel, they called it. And so I just did that.
And so we've got a letter out there in the office from this admiral. But this admiral, he -- when I was there two or three days and worked these out, and then I had them -- I had showed their men how to make the springs and everything, so then I was ready to leave. So they handed me -- out there in my office somewhere you'll see there's a blue plastic thing this way on the ends and a bar across here, and then etched into the back, "Paul R. Oram, Master Spring Maker." It's just a compliment -- nice little thing to get.
NSO: Right. Acknowledgement.
PRO:  As we were ready to leave, why he took this out and had it wrapped in tissue paper and handed to me, and said, "Here is just something from the boys in the shop here. They wanted to give you a little something." So that was that.
Now, that was that particular part. I think that's what you were talking about. Because there was other things we did in there during the war, but --
NSO: One time when we took a drive and we were driving past Mare Island, you told me the story, and --
PRO:  Oh, the sub -- yeah, we were over there.
NSO: Yeah, and that's probably what it was.
PRO:  But I thought about that later. I was at Mare Island, too. We went to Mare Island. In fact the admiral said to me, he said, "What you're about to enter and see," he says, "no civilian is supposed to set eyes on," he says, "but I'm sure you're not out to betray your country." You know, I said, "Hell, no." He says, "Well, you just look all you want and see whatever you want to see, but just keep it to yourself," you know.
But they had an awful lot of stuff going on during the war that was secret, just like the atomic bomb. It was -- they told us, if you mentioned it you'd meet the FBI in about ten minutes. Just tell your wife, your bartender, your girlfriend; just mention it, and you'll never see the light of day again. That's how serious they were about that. But then they announced it over the -- when they popped one at Hiroshima, they come on the air, you know, at the base, and they said, "Now here this. Now here this. The admiral speaking. We have just dropped a bomb on Hiroshima that has killed over 600,000 people with one stroke." And then, boy, we lit up a yell, because that meant that they had to give in. And then in a few more days they announced again that -- what was it -- Nagasaki. The Japs didn't wake up, so they just give it to them again, and then they did wake up. They signed the defeat.
But -- it was just -- I didn't do anything unusual, it was just that that was what I was in, and I was an expert. And as I worked there at Marchant, I never was satisfied with just running the machinery, and showing the girls how to do their job. I had 35 girls working -- the department was square, and it had benches all the way around, and it had 35 girls sitting there and three men, me and two others, running our spring machines, and so on. And I'd show them how to do it.
And we made springs there -- for example, there was one spring there we had to make, the girls had to do it. And when they'd take it off of the thing, it would cut their finger right here. The spring had a backlash to it. When it would come off, it would smack it right there on the finger. So they wore finger gloves, you know, rubber things, and stuff. But we had to rotate girls on that job. Every three or four days we'd take that one off and put another one in there, because they'd end up getting their fingers all cut up.
And I invented the machine that -- that to me was the best thing I ever invented there. It wounded up automatically on the spring machine, and there was nothing to making it. But after you got it made, you couldn't get rid of it. Because it was wound up, and the end was bent over like this on one end, and a loop on the other end, and there it was hung up on the machine and you couldn't get it off of there. You'd have to take and pry it off of there, and it would fly all the way across the room.
Well, I figured out how to take it off of there. Just as the last bend come on this end here, I had a little finger come up, put it on the mechanism that would come up, and just shove the wire off of there so that it wouldn't hang on there, and it released it, and it would just fly -- and I had a tub sitting there, and it was just going -- it would go [demonstrating]. They were just flying in that barrel. And those girls, they were just all, oh, they just lit up. Because that meant the end of that there on their fingers. No more. And the company made a lot of money out of that.
Well, of course, when you go there you sign your papers that anything you might invent while you're there is the property of the company, of course. They're paying your wages --
NSO: But you had several patents that you were responsible for.
PRO:  Thirteen of them. I had quite a few.
NSO: And there's a book of them, right? There's a book of your patents somewhere around here.
PRO:  Oh, I think I finally threw it out. I think it was in the garage.
NSO: Yeah, I think we recovered it. It was in the garage, and I think we pulled it out.
PRO:  Well, I don't know. But anyway, I got -- out there in that garage I've got a machine that I invented that will automatically loop springs. But I didn't give it to the company, because I said, the hell with it. After five years after you left there you could develop it. And after five years I didn't give a shit. I was in the insurance business, and didn't want to waste my time on that. But it was --
NSO: How did you get to be a machinist?
PRO:  Well, I went in there -- let's see, let me get this straight now, because it was very confusing. I was working at the Donut Corporation of America, and I applied to Marchant for a job. It wasn't that they got ahold of me first. I think I got ahold of them, and I said I wanted to go to work there.
They had around 300 screw machines, automatic screw machines, that makes parts -- the machine just -- the chuck on the -- it's like a lathe, you know. It's like a lathe, the screw machine. But it feeds out stock, and there's a turret here, and you put a thing like this up there, and it would feed the stock against that and then back off, and then the turret would move and it would come in and drill it, and then the turret would turn around and come in from the other side and cross cut it, cut this right down there, and finally cut it off, and there was the part all made. Screw threaded in it, and everything; all sorts of things done.
Well, I had wanted to get into that, so -- I can't remember who --
Do you know who got me to get in touch with Marchant? Who worked at Marchant that I knew?
DRO: Mr. Yaw.
PRO:  Ethel Yaw. Her girlfriend's father worked there.
Well, that's right. Now that gives me the clue I needed. I forgot. Mr. Yaw was a little guy that was Ethel's father, and Ethel, Dot and I used to go to Mutual together, and all that stuff. And I had told Mr. Yaw that I wanted to quit and get out of the Donut Corporation, and I would like to get into being a machinist, and was there openings down where he worked.
Well, he told me to see the personnel manager. And when I saw him, he took me over and introduced me to the guy in charge of the Screw Machine Department, and they had gotten these spring machines in and had had two of them sitting there. And nobody could make them work. You know, they were these machines, and they just couldn't understand them. But they got a guy in there, one of the screw machine operators in there, Harriman. His name was Harriman. And he was a smart ass guy, you know. He would get it to work for awhile, but then he wouldn't tell them what he did or anything else, and they -- they just knew that they weren't going to get anywhere with him. So they just fired his butt and hired me and said, "There's the machines, see if you can figure them out."
So I sat there and looked them over, and saw what they were supposed to do, and started doing it slowly, you know, slowly. Well then -- and I invented a pulley I put on the machine, that sped it up 17 times as fast as it was supposed to go. And they could never figure it out, because when I got the thing running, when the whole department was running good, I would -- I just had time coming out my ears. I had girls working there -- maybe ten or twelve girls by then. And when they'd get behind on the job, that they couldn't make the rates -- because they've got these efficiency men that come there and set the rates so tight that they've got to just [demonstrating] like that to catch up and everything, to even make their salary. And it would just drive them crazy.
So, I'd just punch them out, and put -- I'd take the time -- I'd run the machine and I'd speed that thing up so fast that you couldn't even see the parts coming off of it. [Demonstrating], like that. They were just going -- barrel filling right up with the parts. And then I'd shut it down -- and I could just crank it up or down with this pulley, and it -- the pulley was split, and it would go like this and this. And when you cranked it out like this, the pulley would get out here, and it would drive it faster, and it would go faster. So when there was nobody around, I'd crank it up, and I'd get thousands of parts made right quick.
And we were making parts for the Navy, and shell detonators, and all kinds of things with springs in them. Little breathing things for the pilots that wanted to move around the planes -- those B-17s they had, they plugged into the line where they sat, but when they wanted to move around, they had to plug this into this little canister, and there was a breathing thing on there, that there was a little spring that operated it, and when breath hit it it would open the air and let the air to them, and when they inhaled it it would stop, you know. And that way they wouldn't waste all their air they had. Stuff like that.
But anyway, I would give these girls -- hell, the girls would be sitting up in the ladies room fixing their nails or their hair. And these time-setting men were going nuts. They just got so damn mad. They would sneak around there and peek through from the other department and see what -- trying to see what I was doing, you know. And I'd see them, and I'd just -- I'd just reach down and turn the thing down, you know, and -- I drove them crazy around there.
NSO: They couldn't figure out how the production was so high.
PRO:  Oh, yeah. We were -- you see, in the department where the things were set -- now, by now I'd been there seven or eight or ten years or so, you know. And the rates were all set down just tighter than a drum. And you just have a hell of a time making 70 or 80 percent. We were making 100 -- I slipped, and we were making over 110 percent. You can't make 110 percent. No way you can make 110 percent, so there's got to be something wrong over there. But there it was. And what could they do about it? The records just bore me out.
NSO: But that came from knowing how to fix a machine to work faster.
NSO: Okay. The way that department worked.
PRO:  Well, the way I worked in there, I had friends that just thought I was one of the greatest guys in the world, but very few of those. And a lot of guys that were pretty damned jealous. They were -- they just practically hated me because of the way I operated it so long. I didn't give a damn one way or the other. It just seemed to me like the thing to do is get the work done.
For instance, I run -- we run a spring about that long, it was about that big around, compression spring, and there was a little O-ring that fit on the -- oh, it's out there on the garage. I've got a copy of it. But it was a detonating -- it was what you call a -- oh, I can't think of the word now. But it set the 37 mm shell off. When the gun fired, this little O-ring expanded just enough to let the firing pin become exposed on the shoulder on there, the ring wasn't [unintelligible] out like that. Now the firing pin got exposed. There was a little aluminum plate there that that hit. And when it hit the ground or hit whatever it hit, that firing pin would go through that plate and it would strike it and set off a little charge of powder in there, which set the whole damn thing off. Now the whole shell went up.
So I made them -- I knew -- I could see what it would take. There was no real thing critical about the damn things. But we had a guy in the Inspection Department who was pretty -- he always tried to hang me. Even when I went into the Service and come back out of the Service, he was giving my job away and wasn't going to let me have my job back. And I just sat there and I said, "Well," I says, "I've been told by the Navy that -- " "I want my old job back." "Well, we're going to give you the screw machine, a better job. We're going to give you a better job in the Screw Machine Department." I said, "No, I don't think so. I'll take my old job back." Well, a personal friend of his was in there, and I bumped him right back out of there when I come back.
But anyway, that's the politics of the thing. Well, he just condemned about, I guess there was about 300,000 of those springs, and he just condemned the whole damn works. Now here comes the whole -- everybody come down there. Oh, everybody's all excited. I finally got ahold of Bauchagalupi, my boss. A nice guy. An awful nice guy. Superintendent of the whole plant. I said, "Is there any way you can dissolve this meeting?" "What do you mean?" he said, "we've got a problem." I said,"You've got no problem. Just forget about it, and send them all back to their departments and leave it to me and you. It will just disappear. It will just go out of sight." "But how?" I said, "You don't want to know." So he said, "Hey, you go on back in your department. You go over in your department. You go in there, and I'm going to take care of this," he says. So we did.
So I just grabbed -- I had these pans. It was about this size of this here, and about that deep, full of these springs, and as I run -- I run some off. I put the girl there with the weight scale that when it compressed it just a certain distance the right amount of weight, and she'd check, and if the thing went down too far, she'd sort them out. Sort them out. Then I put them on top of the pan, because I knew that it didn't make a damn bit of difference. They would work as long as it was generally that spring. You didn't need all the -- the specialty department that tightened up the tolerances on it, nobody could make them. So I put all these good ones all over the top of them and sent them back through.
And then this idiot says, "I see you're finally starting to do the job right." I said, "Well, yeah, thanks to you we got it done, there." So I just fed him in, and fed him in. First thing you know, he come over and he said, "What are we going to do about those springs?" You know, about two or three weeks later. And I said, "What springs?" And he said, "The ones we rejected." And I said, "Do you see any springs around here you rejected?" Geez, they'd been shipped and put into -- and shot off at the enemy already. He knew he'd been had.
And he was the same way when I come back and he was telling me that Ken -- I can't think of his -- Ken Price had had that job. He said --
Now Ken Price was a guy that was always patting the girls on the butt and messing around and stuff, and when they finally got wise to him, they fired him. He ended up as a springmaker over in L.A. Young Spring Works over in San Francisco. And he's the one that said he wanted to see me spend the rest of my life as a springmaker.
So anyway, he said about Ken Price, and I said, "Well," I said, "if you ever wake up, you won't be such a buddy to Ken Price." And he finally did. He finally did. In fact, once I said that and they started investigating a little bit, the girls in my department who knew the other girls all around there started talking, and they blew the whistle on Ken Price, and they just fired him. They just fired him right out of the plant.
NSO: Good. That was way before their time, too. They have a lot of that now, but not then.
PRO:  Yeah. But he was -- my girls said they couldn't go near him, that he was chucking them and stuff. And he was just a dirty old guy. That's all. But you get those kind of politics in those jobs.
But the department head of the assembly department next to us went and told my -- Mr. Bauchagalupi, he said, "Oram's all over the plant," he says, "he's always -- " I'd go and find parts and put them together to make a jig to make something. And so when Mr. Bauchagalupi talked to me, he said, "He's complaining about you being all around over there." And I said, "I was just getting parts to do things." And he said, "I know." But he said, "We've got to do something to shut him up." I said, "Shut him up, hell," I said, "I'll go back and forth in front of his desk, he'll think a parade of Orams is going by." And Bauchagalupi just grinned at me, you know. And I did. I just -- I wasn't doing anything, you know and I'd think, "Oh, I haven't been by that guy lately," and I'd just get up and go --
NSO: Just to annoy him.
PRO:  Go by to annoy him. Geez. Guys like that always bug me.
NSO: What was his name?
PRO:  The -- oh, what the heck was his name. I see him as clear as a bell. He was a kind of a small guy, but I can't think of his name. I forgot his name.
NSO: What was he doing before you -- when you left, and then you came back and he was in charge of the department.
DRO: Oh, Price. Price had been working in different departments, and he was such a damn nuisance to everybody. Marchant made the boast that they had a place for anybody. They never needed to fire anybody, because they had a job for everybody in the world. They had him ended up on the third shift in the Experimental Department. It was the only place they could get him where there was no women around him. No women worked there at night. And he was in there, and they were just trying to make gigs, and he didn't have the intelligence to do that, and he wasn't producing a damn thing. And that's where they had him.
When I went into the Service, then why this is his buddy that brought him down and put him in there and got him into the Spring Department.
NSO: In your spot.
PRO:  Yeah. And --
NSO: But was that guy in charge when you left and still in charge when you came back?
PRO:  Which guy?
NSO: The one that put Price in there?
PRO:  Oh, yeah, he was still there when I come back. He was the guy that was telling me that -- well, we've got a better job for you.
I had a little girl in my department, was a Puerto Rican girl. And she just startled the hell out of me. I used to kid around with the girls a lot, you know. And I said to her, "Hey, something," you know, made some smart remark to her. And she said, "Well, you just name the time and place and I'll be there." Well, that shut me up but good. But come to find out she's going to bed with this guy that I'm talking about, that this boss had put Kenny Price in my place when I left. And here he was, he was a married man about 50 years old, going to bed with this little Puerto Rican girl. She just told me she would, and -- she worked there.
And we got a guy back from the war who was a quadriplegic. And so I took the electrician, and I said, "Play a joke on that guy." They told us, "Don't be too quick to help the guy, but help him out so that we can hire him, and let him work there." But he's got no hands and his feet are all crippled and stuff. Well, he didn't have feet, he had legs, mechanical legs. And so I told the electrician, I said, "Sneak over there and just nail his damn shoes to the floor." And he did. I did a lot of dirty things, too, you know,
NSO: Did he take it well?
PRO:  Well, it didn't turn out too good. Instead of saying anything, or anything else, he just got up to get up, and he plopped right over on the floor. Because his shoes were nailed to the floor, and he can't -- he just threw himself out of his chair, and there he was on the floor wallowing around trying to get -- he couldn't get his legs to -- you know. And it put the one leg out of order, completely broke it, broke the mechanics of it. So we picked him up and took him into the nurse's office, and they called the Veteran's Administration, and brought another prosthetic device for his leg, and fixed him up and then put him back. But that just was a little too far.
But we went out fishing out here by Pittsburg at their PG&E plant where you see the big stack there, we'd fish along there. And he was there. And we helped him get his bait in, and cast him out, and he was leaning up against the bank like this, you know. And he got a big fish on, and he was doing like this. And hell, the next thing you know he was crawling along the ground trying to reel this fish in, because he got him down. And so we went over and helped him bring the fish in. But we didn't do -- we just stood there and let him holler. And he said, "Well, somebody help me, damn it." And so we come over, and one got on each side of him, and we helped him bring the fish in.
NSO: Did he have arms, then?
PRO:  Yeah, his arms were -- they were all shot up, but he could operate a thing. He'd go like that, and operate the reel.
NSO: So what did he do at the plant that the --
PRO:  They had some job where he'd take one from here, and one from there, and he'd put it together and put them in this pan; and take one from here, and there, and put them together and put them in this pan. So they could give him a job.
NSO: Now, when we were talking last time, and you were talking about working for Rylock Company, did you go to the Donut Corporation after that?
PRO:  Yeah, but I left Rylock -- I went to Ferns apartment house and washed windows, and painted apartments, and then --
NSO: Was this war time yet?
PRO:  Not yet. Not then. And then my job with the -- I got a job at the Donut Corporation of America when they built the plant in Emeryville, there. And -- well, we got -- they were just hiring somebody to help finish the plant. So I went there, and Grandpa Jack went there. He got a job there.
NSO: About what year, do you remember?
PRO:  It would be --
DRO: 19 -- the year we were married.
DRO: The early part of the year.
PRO:  And we painted, you know, the building that we built from scratch and everything, you know. A great big warehouse building. We painted it. And then when we finished it, why we were cleaning up around there, and Jack got a job running a forklift unloading boxcars of sugar and flour, and stuff like that that they used. I got a job on the sugar mix mill, where you go upstairs and dump so many sacks of flour in, and so many sacks -- well, no, the sugar thing wasn't the flour mix. That was where they made the barrels of donut mix. But I was on the sugar-something. I forget the way I said it. But I put in so much sugar, powdered sugar. And then they had a tank, and they'd heat it up, and I sprayed oil in there. I'd open the valves and spray oil into this sugar mix as it was being turned, and turned, and turned. And put the lemon flavor in there, and vanilla flavor in there. So much of everything, you know. And then when you get all through, that's what they would put the donuts in --
NSO: The icing, huh?
PRO:  Yeah. And instead of being, it wasn't glazed, it was just donut powder all over. And it had enough oil in it that it made it stick to the things. So I run the sugar white machine, and --
I'll never forget one time we -- the thing was a great big tank went way up in the air and come down, and it fitted like a cone like this down at the bottom. And down at the bottom was a thing that rotated and took the sugar, and it went up to the top, and come down at the bottom. Well, it would get stuck up there, you know. And it would get a hollow -- the sugar would get stuck like this, and there would be a hollow down the middle, and the thing's turning down here and no sugar is coming out. So we used to go pound on it with a rubber mallet, and it would shake it down sometimes. When it wouldn't do that, we had a big long thing, it was about 25 feet long, with a blade on the end of it. It had a big loop handle on it. We'd get it up here, and go like this to shove it up and down to get it down. The damn blade broke off the end of it. And it was down there, and we had to shut it down quick, because that's when it would go in there, and it would just really screw up the mechanism.
So they -- I was the smallest guy around there. I weighed around 140. So they got a rope, put it around me. Lowered me head-first down there, and I just go, "A little lower. Let me down a little lower." And just as I got that damn blade in my hands, the whole thing collapsed on me. And so they hauled me up out of there, and I was breathing sugar all over the place. But I -- luckily I hung onto the thing, and when they drug me up out of there, I had still in my hand --
NSO: Oh, so you got it. Good grief. So your silo experience wasn't enough. You had to --
PRO:  No. I had to go down the inside of a tank.
NSO: Sugar tank.
PRO:  That happened to --
Dot, what was that lady's name's husband that got killed in -- during the war there? Do you remember the little red-headed gal that put a big bird cage on her head and sang at the church -- she sang -- what was her name? She sang that song about the men in the little white coats were after her, and she was dancing on the stage with a bird cage on her head?
DRO: Oh, Margaret Openshaw.
PRO:  Openshaw. Her husband got killed in one of those collapsed things.
DRO: In a silo or something.
PRO:  Yeah, he was down in there -- went down in there to do something, and it collapsed on him and he died in there.
NSO: Was that Johnny Openshaw?
PRO:  Johnny Openshaw. That's it.
NSO: I thought he got electrocuted at PG&E.
DRO: Well, it was some nuclear or military base of some sort.
PRO:  Oh, yeah.
DRO: It was having to go down into fire of some kind.
NSO: Oh, okay. So it was fire. I remembered that much.
Okay. So how long did you work at Donut Corporation?
PRO:  I can't remember when I left Donut Corporation. Dot?
NSO: About how many years, do you think you were there?
PRO:  Three years.
DRO: Well, it was probably 1940 or '41.
PRO:  Oh, yeah. When I left there was when I went to Marchant.
NSO: So about two years, maybe.
PRO:  Three, I think.
NSO: Two or three. And then Marchant, and then from Marchant to Prudential.
PRO:  Prudential. And then I resigned from there. Put in ten years so I would get a check from them every month, too. And then I went to United Insurance Company. That was a black organization. All our clientele was black. And I took that to get out of debt, because we were -- all my bills had mounted up, and I hadn't been making anything. And then when I got them all straightened up, then I quit and I went and got a job at Metropolitan. Prudential will never take you back once you leave them. So I said, What the hell, Metropolitan's a -- they used to waver back and forth which was the biggest company. One year it would be Prudential, and the next year it would be Metropolitan. They would outsell each other.
NSO: Yeah, I remember that. And didn't you do Beneficial for a short time?
PRO:  Oh, yeah, I took Beneficial.
NSO: About the same time as United, right in there?
PRO:  But you had to spend so much time selling the company, there. At least with Prudential and Metropolitan, you didn't have to sell the company. You went to talk at somebody's home, you said you were Prudential or Metropolitan, as far as they're concerned you already had their business. You didn't have to worry about that, if they wanted to buy anything. But Beneficial, the church people, all of them, said, "Oh, the Mormons take care of me, I don't need insurance." Then how can I argue with them and tell them well, the Lord takes care of those that take care of themselves, you know.
NSO: Well, there are several general authorities who are insurance men.
PRO:  Well, look at Heber J. Grant. He started Beneficial Life and gave it to the Church.
NSO: So I think we've covered all of your employment, except some of the odd jobs here and there.
NSO: But when you went to Marchant and you said how you got started as a machinist, and they put you in charge to see if you could make the machines work, well you had to have some ability before that --
PRO:  Well, out at Rylock I became a machinist. Back in those days you were in the union, and the apprenticeship was four years. You had to be an apprentice for four years. But when the war came on, they started moving them up, you know. Like I had to make an inch-square block -- a block -- a cube, inch square, that measured the same from corner to corner, to corner to corner, and one inch all ways, within 2/10ths of a thousands of an inch, and to lap that on a box, finish it down -- I started out with a block too big, and lapped it down, and lapped it down, and it took me three or four months to make that cube that finally fit all the dimensions and stuff. And do the filing. You -- and I don't mean filing away stuff, I mean filing. And did that for six months and stuff.
But I learned to run a lathe at Rylock. Yeah, I could run a lathe, and a punch press, drill press, all that kind of equipment. So when I went to Marchant, I knew what everything was, you know.
We used to send a guy over -- when we'd get a new guy in there and he didn't know what was going on, we said -- "Run over and -- " We'd be setting up a machine, and we'd say, "Run over there and get me a spool of pipe thread from the tool crib." The tool crib was a place that had an all wired-in window the guy sat at, and hand you out drills if you needed a drill, and you need this or that or the other thing. So he'd go over there and he'd say, "What are you here for?" And he'd say, "I want a spool of pipe thread." Oh, gee, they've got that over down at the other department," and they'd send him down there for a spool of pipe thread. Hell, pipe thread was what you thread on a pipe, you know, but -- or a bucket of steam. "Get a bucket of steam." Oh, gee. You'd send them all around for all that stuff. And every once in awhile the boss would get mad, because here's this guy going around, he'd say, "What are you doing? Where are you going?" "Well, I've got to get a bucket of steam for. . ." "Get back over there. Don't you know anything."
NSO: So when you were at Marchant, you decided to join the Navy -- or you decided to join the Service.
PRO:  Well, yeah. This guy that was there was my good buddy, he said --
Now I had two kids, Bonnie and Pat. And I didn't really want to go to -- I wasn't anxious to run and jump in the Service, you know. But our number was up, and we became 1-A on the draft, you know, which means you --
NSO: Even with two kids, huh?
PRO:  Oh, yeah. "So if we're there," this guy said, "Let's just go first class," you know. He was my buddy. And I said, "Well, if we have to go in the Service, I guess it don't make much difference where I go." He said, "Let's go first class. Marine Corps." So we volunteered into the Marine Corps. Well, when I had taken my exam, they had detected a slight enlarged inguinal groin on the left side, but not in the scrotum. "NIS," it said on the scrotum. In other words, it's a hernia, but it's not hanging down into the scrotum, but it was starting to.
And so when we got up there to the Marine Corps, why I looked, and my buddy's over there, and I seen him raising his hand, and they're swearing him in. Well, hell, he's going -- he'll be on the next bus out of there. And I'm still sitting here. I said to the guy, "Hey," I said, "what's going on here?" I said, "That's my buddy over there." I said, "I only joined the Marine Corps just so I could stay with him." He said, "Just go over there and sit down and shut up." I said, "Wait a minute. You can't tell me to sit down and shut up, I'm a civilian. I'm not in the Service." And so he just [writing] shoved me a piece of paper. I look at it and it has a discharge. He had 4-F'd me for a hernia. And he didn't have any right to do that, but he did it.
And I just got so mad. I was really upset. Dorothy and I went over to that guy's program over in San Francisco. He had a --
What was that guy, Dot, that we went to that program in San Francisco the day I got rejected from the Service?
DRO: Art Linkletter.
PRO:  Art Linkletter, yeah. We went to the program while I was over there, and then came home from there. I had to go back -- they had given me a gift.
What did they give me as a gift? Something.
DRO: Oh, one of those little dogs made out of yarn and --
PRO:  Oh, that's what Linkletter gave me. But I was talking about when I went back to Marchant, they had given me a diddy bag, and I had to take that and tell them --
NSO: That you weren't going.
PRO:  That I wasn't going.
DRO: He had to reach his hands through a box and feel it and not see what it was.
PRO:  And they says, "What is that?" And I said, "Oh, it's a dog." I ruined Art Linkletter's day.
DRO: Everybody was making them at that time.
NSO: Oh, so he'd seen them.
PRO:  But anyway, he said, "Okay, wise guy, what color is it?" I said, "Blue." It was blue. You know, just top-of-my-head stuff, you know. And when he got the microphone away and shut off and handed it to someone else, he said, "Was that blindfold -- could you see through that blindfold?" I said, "No." "Well how did you know it was blue?" I said, "I didn't. I just guessed." He got the wrong guy.
I'm still sitting here thinking about my buddy in the Marine Corps. And he went over there and was sent in as a replacement at Iwo Jima and was shot. In less than three months this buddy was back all wounded. And I'd have been right with him. I'd probably have been dead. But -- so I figured that was just the way it worked out.
NSO: So then how did you end up in the Navy?
PRO:  Oh, when I jumped to the -- went up there to the -- the next time I was called up, I was sent up to -- can't think of the name of that place, now.
Where was it I went into the Navy at? Up here somewhere up there, little --
PRO:  Marysville. And there was a Lieutenant Smith there, and he was the recruiting officer for the Navy, and there was a guy for the Army. And they would ask you what you preferred. I said, "I'd like to be in the Navy."
NSO: But didn't the guy make you 4-F?
PRO:  Yeah, but then that was just --
DRO: Then that was a year later that he was called.
PRO:  That guy didn't have any right to make me 4-F, you know.
NSO: So you were actually drafted, then, a year later?
PRO:  Yeah. And so he said which service branch, and I said, "I'd like to be in the Navy."
NSO: That's first class.
PRO:  Yeah. But when I -- I had detected that this Lieutenant Smith was a Mason. And when I was just -- when we met [for church] in the Mason's Lodge, I read all their secret keywords and signs and symbols. And so I gave this guy the old sign --
NSO: He probably had a ring or something?
PRO:  Oh, yeah. Yeah. And I gave him the sign, and he said -- there was an assistant that was sitting by him. He said, "Well, let's put him in the Navy." And the assistant said, "Sir, we're way over our quota," blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. He said, "I said Navy." He wasn't going to take that off his assistant, either. So the Army man had my paper, and was just doing like this [ready to stamp it]. . .
End of tape.
PRO:  . . .brother in the Navy, and a brother in the Marine Corps, and but I said, "My father was in the Navy, and I said -- " and I kept giving him the signal, you know. And he said, "Navy." And so the guy pushed the paper back over, and they stamped it Navy, and I went in the Navy. And that -- and as we were going off, that officer said to me, he said, "Where the hell did you get that signal from?" And I told him. I told him the truth. And he said, "Boy, you sure conned me." He said, "Well, don't volunteer for anything. Just go."
So when I got I there I made 4-A on all these tests. So they said, "Now we don't put anybody in the submarine service, but we'll give you a chance to volunteer for it." So I said, "Well, the lieutenant that inducted me into the Service said, 'whatever you do don't ever volunteer for anything,' so I think I'll take his advice." And I didn't go in there. It's a good thing I did, because I would have been in trouble when they get down under water like that. It's all right out in the open, but not down there. Oh, well, that's it.
NSO: Your voice gone? Okay.
[End of tape.]
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