Paul and Shirley Mackenzie Anderson

Interview with Paul and Shirley McKenzie Anderson conducted by Curt Dalton, Montgomery County Historical Society, during the 2001 WAVES reunion.

Oct. 18, 2001

CD: Hi, this is Curt Dalton with the Montgomery County Historical Society and we’re talking to Paul and Shirley Anderson and your maiden name was . . .

SA: McKenzie. Shirley McKenzie.

CD: And how to you spell that?

SA: M-c-K-e-n-z-i-e.

CD: Okay. Well, I don’t know where to begin [Curt laughs], so I’m going to let you guys do it.

SA: We don’t either. [Shirley laughs.]

CD: I know. Now, we’ll start with . . . you came . . . were you from Dayton originally, Paul?

PA: No, I was from northern Minnesota.

CD: Northern Minnesota. And you came here . . . did you enlist or did you . . .

PA: I enlisted in the regular Navy for six years the first time which was why I wound up staying, I guess.

CD: How long did you end up staying in the Navy?

PA: Twenty years.

CD: Holy cow. That’s a . . . you didn’t expect that in the beginning I would think.

PA: Well, I don’t know.

CD: Yeah.

PA: It was either . . . I would ever have been drafted and gone to the Army and walked wherever I went. And that wasn’t for me.

SA: So he joined the Navy and rode.

CD: That’s right. [Everyone laughs.] And then you came to Dayton eventually?

PA: Yes. Right after service school in Great Lakes . . . at Great Lakes.

CD: And when was it you came here?

PA: Oh, I can’t remember exactly. It was in the latter part of . . .

SA: January? Or were you here . . .

PA: The latter part of December of ’42.

CD: Okay. ’42. And what did you do when you were here?

PA: Oh, I made parts for the computers. I was a machinist and that’s what we did. We were building and making parts for the computers that were later used for breaking the German and Japanese code.

CD: So you were making the parts that she was soldering on, that kind of thing. Anad other things. The casing and everything?

PA: Right.

CD: Wow. And did you know what you were working on?

PA: No. Not a bit. You couldn’t . . . I never . . . were in production in making the parts.

CD: And you had training as a . . . in making mechanical or . . .

PA: Well, I had some training. I had worked for a while tool making for Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica and when the war started I went home and wound up joining the navy.

CD: That’s fine. Now how old were you at that time?

PA: I was 20.

CD: 20. And you, young lady. Where did you live when you . . .

SA: I was in Salt Lake City.

CD: That’s a long ways away.

SA: Uh huh.

CD: And they sent you all the way here? SA: No. First I went to Madison, Wisconsin and went through radio school. And from there got my clearance and came here.

CD: Salt Lake City. How old were you when you joined? SA: I joined on my 20th birthday.

CD: You had to be 20 to join? SA: Uh huh. They inaugurated the Waves in July, 29th I think it is, and my birthday was August 1st, so I went down and said I do.

CD: That’s ’43? SA: ’42.

CD: My history is rusty. All right. [Shirley laughs.] Now, why did you decide to join? I mean, I know why he . . .

SA: Oh, I don’t know. It’s a little bit of red, white and blue and a little bit of fun and games. So . . .

CD: Did you expect to go to a big city or I mean did you have any expectations at all?

SA: I had no idea. I just didn’t want to sit behind a typewriter and type in a corner or take dictation which I had took, had taken in high school and didn’t think that was my calling.

CD: Did you have to have your parents permission at that time?

SA: Yes, they signed for me.

CD: No problem either way with that?

SA: No.

CD: What always surprises me is the families of most of the women didn’t seem to hesitate on that.

SA: Well, my father retired from the Army and he actually wrote back and said he would go back in in December of ’41, so it isn’t surprising that I went in.

CD: Did you mom do anything as far as . . . You probably had other brothers and sisters, didn’t you?

SA: I had a brother who was in the Navy and then I have two sisters.

CD: Wow, amazing. So you went through Navy school. Where was that?

SA: In Madison, Wisconsin. From October through December. And then I came to Dayton in January of ’43.

CD: So you were one of the first ones here.

SA: Uh huh.

CD: Now you guys met when? SA: Well, we knew enough to say hello to one another while we were here, but actually when we were in Washington, D.C., we were kind of signed as a pair to repair the machinery.

CD: So you guys repaired it. Well, that makes sense with you, because you built the thing, or helped build it anyway. By that time you already knew what was going on then, huh? PA: I knew we were doing something special because they used to publish things like when certain German ships were sunk they would put up on the bulletin and say . . . kind of celebrate what was the result of our work.

CD: Now when did you leave to . . . that was Washington, D.C. When did you end up leaving? PA: Oh, I left there shortly after the war was over and come back here to Dayton, Ohio, and disassembled the stuff we had in Building 26 and shipped it up to St. Paul.

CD: Yeah. PA: And stayed there almost a year.

CD: Now you were here first building the machines. And how long were you here building the machines in Dayton? PA: It was about I would say eight to nine months at the most. And we got several machines on the line and so a portion of us were sent to D.C. to set them up and maintain then. So that’s what we did.

CD: So you were there by mid-43. Okay. And how long were you here? SA: From January to October and I went out with the first bunch of machines and maintained them in Washington.

CD: Now did you do soldering here or did you do something different? SA: When I first came here, they taught me how to solder and then I had a group of thirty or forty girls that I taught to solder and then we soldered. [Shirley laughs.]

CD: How many were in a room? I hear anything from . . .

SA: I was trying to remember and I would say there were close to 30. 25 to 30, 35. Something like that number. And we would solder and tie and they’d give us schematics of the way to tie the wires and to go to each terminal and . . .

CD: Now did you have any idea? Could you kind of guess or . . .

SA: I had no real idea that it was as magnificent as it was, but the number of wires we used was 26 to 27 and we kinda’ joked about it and speculated. But we had no idea that it was really what we were doing.

CD: And you stayed at Sugar Camp in one of the cabins?

SA: Uh huh.

CD: It must have been pretty darn cold at first.

SA: Uh huh.

CD: ‘Cause those windows weren’t . . .

SA: It was chilly.

CD: That’s what I thought And were did you stay?

PA: We just stayed in the resident homes here. We were renting a room or a bed from different families in town.

CD: Oh, you personally were renting a room. How much were you getting paid? Do you remember?

PA: It wasn’t much.

CD: I didn’t think so. PA: No. They give us — I can’t really remember, but it couldn’t been much more than a dollar a day for subsistance. SA: I think we were back in Washington before they raised the pay to $50 a month, so it was . . .

CD: Oh, it doesn’t sound like much. [Everyone laughs.]

PA: No.

CD: Now you said you guys knew each other well enough to talk to each other. You didn’t do any dating actually here or anything? SA: No, he had a girl friend and I had a boy friend.

CD: Oh, man.

SA: But that was then, and this is now.

CD: That was then. Where did you guys . . . was there any place to hang out as far as, I mean not together, but I mean, where did you take your dates or did your dates take you? PA: Well, they used to hang out at Lance’s Merry-go-round downtown Dayton here. That was quite a place when we were here.

CD: Oh, yeah. Did they have bands or anything? PA: Yeah. They did have music but we used to make our own music. A group of us formed a barbershop quartet, didn’t form it but we’d get going in the bar and everybody would join in like it was . . . we had a wild time. It was great fun.

CD: I bet. Well, no wonder you had the ladies. A barbershop quartet . . . that’s great. And did you . . . the same place — Lance? Is that where you went? SA: No. I guess just movie and dancing. We went to Cincinnati to across the river to Covington. I think it was the Hollywood Club that was there. I think that’s what that name of it was. It’s since has burned down. But I would go there every once in a while.

CD: How did you get all the way to Cincinnati? SA: Well, there were buses and I had a friend that came down from Madison, Wisconsin, and would pick me up and we’d drive over and he had a sister living there and so we’d stay with her and we’d go across to Covington.

CD: That’s neat. That’s great. Did uh . . . I was just trying to think of . . . trying to think of some of the stories they told me. One of them was talking about a Wave that used to like sing the people to sleep in one of the rooms.

SA: [Shirley laughs.] Well, there was one, but it wasn’t me.

CD: But you do remember somebody doing that?

SA: Well, I remember them talking about it, but it wasn’t in my quarters. No. Huh uh. There were only four of us in our cabin. Two to each room and it was . . . it was nice.

CD: Was it?

SA: Uh huh.

CD: I would think it would be a lot different moving here to those cabins like that. Was it too cold for you to swim before you ended up leaving?

SA: Oh, no. During the summer there . . . the pool was there. We pitched horseshoes and played baseball and did all kinds of things that were going on and was part of the battle of the sexes with a group of men from Patterson — Wright-Patterson Field. They won, the stinkers. But . . .

CD: Oh, did you show me or somebody show me a picture . . .

SA: Uh huh.

CD: The battle of the sexes. Yeah. That’s funny. Um . . . did you . . . did you, either one of you get to meet Joe Desch.

SA: Yes. PA: Oh, yes.

SA: Both of us.

PA: He was here when we were. He was head man. Very, very smart man, I guess, from what we seen and had been told. But his accomplishments . . .

SA: We didn’t know how smart he was until afterwards, but . . .

CD: Oh, yeah. Well. Did you either one of you get to talk to him much or . . .

SA: No.

CD: Kind of thought he might be a little high up there to . . .

SA: Well, he used to come up to Sugar Camp every once in a while and kind of talk to all of us. But like I say, he was just, you know, one of the officers and whenever they had anything going on up there they all came up and talked to us and was very pleasant and nice.

CD: Did either one of you get to meet anybody important at all? I mean like I know Orville Wright was here a couple times or . . .

SA: No.

PA: No, not me.

SA: Really just . . . I only met those in the Navy or in uniform here. There’s Commander Meader and George Rowling and Desch. They were the most important ones that we met.

CD: And Commander Meader . . . uh, he was sort of like Joe’s boss in a way. Wasn’t he in a way?

SA: Yeah. Something like that.

CD: Or kind of watched over him, or whatever?

PA: He was . . . he was Joe’s shadow, I guess. [CD and SA laugh.]

CD: Now did either of you get to eat in other people’s homes? I heard that sometimes people would do that.

PA: Not me.

SA: I didn’t.

CD: No, neither one of you?

SA: Huh uh.

CD: Did . . . you marched to work . . . the Waves did, right?

SA: We always marched to work in the days and our evening. When we were on mid-shifts, we kind of could go down on our own and those that were at the camp, we’d walk down together. It wasn’t really marching, but we didn’t walk down alone. So we came down.

CD: And did you have to march?

PA: No. We were individuals that . . .

CD: Cause you were all spread all over the place, weren’t you?

PA: We were all in different houses — whoever would take us in, I mean, for a small fee.

CD: Oh, now what building were you working in? Not the same one?

PA: 26.

CD: 26 too? That must have been a bigger building than I thought.

SA: Well, it was two or three floors.

PA: It wasn’t too big, I don’t think, maybe but we had a basement, had the machine shops and they had the wiring in different areas.

CD: And they were assembled in that same building then, huh?

PA: Yeah.

CD: And what? Put on a railroad or something?

PA: Yeah. They shipped them by rail.

SA: Yeah, you accom

PAnied them, didn’t you?

PA: Huh?

SA: Didn’t you accom

PAny them . . .

PA: No, we went back on . . . back to D.C. en mass in an old train car. There were about 50 of us that all went back at the same time.

CD: Oh. How many guys were you working with at the time?

PA: Well, that was one of the first ones, so we had only maybe ten-fifteen men that were machinists and everybody else was doing wiring and electrical work and electronics.

CD: How in the world did they move those things on to a . . . they must have weighed a couple of tons.

PA: Oh, they were heavy. They had special carpenters that crated them up and put them in the box cars and hauled them over.

CD: Had you guys experimented with them here before they were taken over?

PA: Yeah. They were running here when we left.

CD: That’s neat. Uh, somebody told me they had a name for them. I can’t remember what it was.

SA: Big Ben. The Bombe. We called them Big Ben most of the time.

CD: I thought somebody said something like Adam and Eve, or something like that.

PA: Yeah. Adam and Eve.

SA: Yeah, that was the first two.

PA: That was the first two.

CD: That was the first two. And then they were moved . . . they were shipped on to Washington, D.C. then.

SA: Uh huh.

CD: Now in Washington, D.C. where did you live? Same kind of thing?

PA: We lived out on the economy, the same way.

CD: The same way. By that time hopefully you were getting your fifty bucks or close to it.

PA: Oh, yeah. [Shirley laughs.]

CD: Because Washington, D.C., I think that would be a lot more expensive than here, I would think. And did you have a barracks or . . .

SA: No, they weren’t completed when we first came in. I was housed at the Hotel Roosevelt on . . .

CD: On their dime, I hope.

SA: On their dime. [SA and CD laugh.] And there was again six of us in a suite of rooms, three to a room and then we ate on the economy of course. And we got per diem. And from there I moved in with another girl and we shared an a

PArtment and then we shared . . . when we got married, we shared an a


CD: And you got married while you were in Washington, D.C.?

SA: Uh huh.

CD: Now where did you guys meet there?

SA: Oh . . .

CD: Was there any place to hang out?

SA: We were kind of assigned as a team to work on the machine. He worked on them mechanically and I did some of the electronic work.

CD: Did you just work on one machine?

SA: No. We were on call for the floor.

CD: Do you remember how many machines were on the floor at all? Or just a guess maybe?

SA: Fifty, a hundred?

PA: Oh, there might have been . . . oh, when we were there, there were probably about fifteen on one . . .

SA: More than that . . .

PA: On one floor, but then they ex

PAnded the building . . .

SA: Okay, yeah.

PA: And, gosh we had quite a few machines but I couldn’t say.

CD: Yeah. It just sounds like a big, big place.

PA: Yeah, it was.

CD: So, now where did you guys date out there in Washington?

PA; Oh, we went cruisin’ on the river and . . .

SA: He bet me I couldn’t bicycle down to Mt. Vernon and back.

CD: He bet you that?

SA: Yes, but then we didn’t do it. We danced out on the riverboat instead. [Shirley laughs.]

CD: So you never knew.

PA: No. Never knew. [Shirley laughs.]

CD: Did you guys tell me once you used to meet in like hotel lobbies or whatever. Because it was kind of cold for a while there, wasn’t it?

SA: Yeah. He would come up . . .

PA: Oh, yes, it was . . . they get cold, rotten weather in Washington in the winter. It’s raw.

CD: So now, did you have to get permission to wear a wedding dress?

SA: I got married in my white uniform. I never did . . .

CD: Oh, did you?

SA: Uh huh.

CD: Those are beautiful uniforms. Where did you get married?

SA: In Washington, you had to be married in a church. So we were married at DuPont Circle at a little Lutheran church in DuPont Circle.

CD: Your family be able to come up, either one of you?

SA: No. Just friends that we worked with.

CD: The Waves. Yeah. That’s neat.

SA: Yeah, it was . . .

PA: A long time ago.

SA: Working on 58 years.

CD: That’s longer than I’ve been alive,

PAul. [

[Paul, Shirley, and Curt laugh.] That’s longer than I’ve been alive. Gee. That’s funny. Now how long did it take between the time you met in Washington . . . or started working together in Washington, that you got married?

SA: Oh, three months.

CD: Too cold. [SA and CD laugh.]

PA: I guess.

CD: That’s funny.

PA: Then we got a little apartment that . . . because when we got married the you could go down to the housing board and they would find you an apartment that you could rent. It was a little one bedroom . . .

SA: No, it wasn’t even a bedroom. It was one room and kitchen.

PA: Yeah.

SA: A little Hollywood studio, or studio apartment.

CD: Now I thought Waves weren’t allowed to get married. Had that changed by then, or what?

SA: Well, we weren’t allowed to marry anyone with gold braid, but you could get married to another . . . but, you’re right. There was some sort of a thing that a seaman couldn’t marry a seaman, so they did make some sort of stipulation there.

CD: Well, you were probably too valuable to lose either one of you on the machines I would think by that time.

SA: They didn’t let me out when we first got married, so I stayed until the end of the war and then we got out in ’45. So I was there . . .

PA: They wouldn’t let me out anyway other than to volunteer for submarine duty, and I had done that.

CD: Oh, did you really?

PA: Yes, I had taken the physical and the works and the war ended and they cancelled my submarine orders, so then I just stayed with communications and I’ve been with it for twenty years and here we are.

CD: You stayed with communications that entire time.

PA: I went to many overseas stations and stations in the country here. Started out with Guam and went to back from Guam to Maryland and from Maryland to Adak in the Aleutian Islands and from there to San Diego or Imperial Beach and then over to Germany, and from Germany right down to Morocco and from Morocco back to Skaggs Island in San Francisco area and that’s where we finally got done.

CD: Holy cow. Now you traveled with him the entire time?

SA: I went with him. I waited for housing twice, but I went with him.

PA: She even got a ride on the SS United States going to Germany.

SA: We happened to have a dog and it was too cold to go on the military machine . . . er, ships so they billeted us on the USS United States because of the dog. [SA laughs.] So it was exciting.

CD: Gee, that’s a secret to remember. If I’m ever in the military, be sure to bring along a dog. That’s funny. And did you ever have any children or anything?

SA: We had three boys. Went to Guam with one. Came back with 1-1/2. [SA laughs.] Went to Alaska with two and came back with 2-1/2. Went to Germany with three and that was the end of it.

CD: Well, I don’t blame you. Three boys. And they moved everywhere you went to?

SA: Uh huh.

CD: My gosh.

SA: Yeah.

CD: Now when did you stop working on the Bombe,

PAul, or were you always working on it? Cause I knew . . .

PA: Oh, after I left D.C., that was the end of my working on the Bombe. I went back to machinist duties on different stations . . . running power plants, running bulldozers and clearing antenna fields and putting up antennas and jobs like that.

CD: Holy cow. That sounds like a lot of work.

PA: It was a very good experience.

CD: Yeah. Twenty years. You got to retire from there?

PA: Oh, yeah.

CD: Well, good.

PA: Yeah.

CD: Did you get a job after you retired for something else?

PA: Oh, yeah.

CD: I didn’t think they paid enough to . . . [Curt, Paul and Shirley laugh.]

PA: I retired in 1962 and retirement for 20 years as chief petty officer was $174 a month. Well, that didn’t . . . [Shirley laughs.]

CD: Gee.

PA: I went to Pearson Candy in St. Paul and ran their maintenance for 13 years and left there and went to another candy company in the same area and stayed there until I retired.

CD: That’s good.

PA: Building machinery and running the plant.

SA: He always smelled like a candy bar when he came home. Like you could take a big bite out of a chocolate bar.

CD: That doesn’t sound too bad. [Curt and Shirley laugh.] Hopefully you like chocolate.

PA: You get around that stuff and you can’t hardly stand the smell after a while, there’s so much of it.

CD: Yeah, I bet.

SA: And all the kids in the neighborhood would come over and say, “Is your daddy home? Has he got any candy?” [Shirley and Curt laugh.] So, he’s my daddy. [Shirley laughs.]

CD: Now when did you guys, I’m sure you found out together when you could start talking about the Bombe, right? Or . . .

PA: You couldn’t until . . .

SA: Well, until they started talking about the Enigma. That was . . . you know, when they came on television.

CD: You learned by television.

PA: Fifty years after that they finally lifted the secrecy on them.

SA: No one knew what we did until then. My mother and dad would always say, “Well, what have you done now?” The FBI or the MCA . . .

PA: Were always coming around . . .

SA: Asking for clearance every five years and the neighbors would . . .

PA: Cleared for being on the top secret material and stuff so they’d . . .

CD: You had to be cleared as well because you were . . .

SA: Oh yeah. And they’d say, “Well, what’s going on? What are you doing? What have you done wrong that they come investigating you?” I says, “Nothing.”

CD: Yeah, cause you couldn’t tell your family even, could you?

PA: No. Huh uh.

CD: Boy.

PA: It is a wonder that it was kept secret that long because everything gets found out sooner or later, it seems like.

CD: Yeah. Yeah, they say — I don’t know if it’s true — but they do say it’s the best kept secret ever of World War II because it wasn’t until the 70s or something when they finally released it. And I talked to some of the Waves that were here the time before and a couple of them said, “No, this is a trick. I can’t talk to you because . . . ” Which I don’t blame them. Did you both get the speech . . .

SA: Oh, yes.

CD: You got it too, Paul?

PA: Oh yeah.

CD: Was it at the same time?

PA: No.

SA: No.

CD: Where did they give you the speech at?

SA: I was here in Dayton and . . . because the radio school didn’t require it and when I was getting my clearance I was in Washington, D.C. and that didn’t require it and so when I come to Dayton that’s when they told us, “Zip your lip.”

CD: Hmmm. Now hows about you? Was that in Washington?

PA: I think it was Washington where . . . we used to just get it from our division officers. They would tell us to keep quiet and don’t say anything. Well, I couldn’t say anything anyhow because I didn’t know what I was doing.

CD: Yeah. Well a couple of them said they were going to be . . . they were threatened to be shot if they told.

PA: They threatened death. It could happen, but . . .

CD: That would scare me, especially twenty years old. No problem. Can I go home now? [Paul and Curt laugh.] That’s funny.

SA: Well, like I say. It was a lot of red, white, and blue but there are a lot of fun and games when you . . . it’s a new experience, it’s exciting and you’re ready to try your wings.

CD: I bet. Did you have a job before that? Since you were twenty?

SA: Uh huh. I was a receptionist at a department store and also I roller skated for Western Union for eight hours a day. You know, they had machines at different

PArts in the room, these old teletypes. And so we skated from one to the other. I’d pick up New York and take it to San Francisco. San Francisco to Denver. So I skated for eight hours a day.

CD: How long did you do that?

SA: Oh, for about six months.

CD: Really? Was that unusual for a girl to be doing that, cause wasn’t it mostly . . . ?

SA: No. There were nearly all girls that were skating and then I went into an office there at the Western Union and sorted mail . . . or sorted telegrams.

CD: Neat. Any pictures of you in your roller skates and your little uniform.

SA: I don’t think so. [Shirley laughs.]

CD: Darn. Did you have a job before you went, Paul?

PA: Yes. I had worked at Douglass Aircraft for a little less than a year.

CD: A year. You’d mentioned it was Douglass, but I wasn’t sure.

PA: And before that I worked up in Northern Minnesota, down at Virginia. And worked for a plumber.

CD: Oh, gee.

PA: I did plumbing. Actually in Washington, D.C. when we got there the building that housed all these machines were full of electronic tubes and stuff and they generated an awful lot of heat and there was no air conditioning. And I installed the whole air conditioning in that system . . . that building to keep the machines cooled down.

CD: Oh, I see. All the tubes. I mean, there were a lot . . .

SA: There was . . . all tubes. There’s no little chips.

CD: The heat must have . . .

PA: Heat generating and we had to have a cooling tower to keep circulating water that went through all these big old air conditioners. Was about one every ten, fifteen feet along the hall, circled the whole building. I seen a picture up there last night and said, “Well, that’s the job I did.” You could see the plumbing coming down to the [Paul laughs] . . . to the air conditioner that had the water that kept the refrigerant cool.

CD: That’s . . . boy, I can’t imagine how much heat.

PA: Oh, it was . . . it just got . . . you couldn’t . . . and before the air conditioning got in there, you could hardly stand it.

SA: And that was with just a few of the machines until they really filled the room up.

CD: Would the heat break down the machines or anything or wasn’t it like that?

PA: No, we didn’t have . . .

SA: No, just us. [Curt laughs.]

PA: Break down the people I guess.

CD: I can’t imagine how hot it would be. That’s . . . because those old television sets they used to have, you could put your hand in there and they got a little warm let alone the whole thing.

PA: Oh sure. You think 360 tubes in the chassis this big and every one of them is putting out heat.

CD: That’s right. 360 tubes.

PA: Yeah. That’s only one chassis. And there was . . .

SA: Fourteen of them.

CD: And each one of them . . . oh, the machine . . . the Bombe itself had . .

PA: Yes.

CD: Fourteen chasses. So you’re talking . . .

SA: Lots.

PA: Lot of heat.

SA: They weren’t all tubes. There were a lot of relays and stuff in there, but it produced a lot of heat.

CD: I can’t imagine electricity to run those.

PA: Yeah.

CD: I’m sure everything had to be rewired, I would think.

SA: I’m sure the building was built for it. We never thought about it. We just plugged them in and . . .

CD: So did you guys have to re

PAir them a lot?

SA: Oh, when one would break down, we knew the sequence of how things should proceed and we could find out which chassis was malfunctioning and we’d pull that one and put a new one in and take it back to the shop and . . . and rewire it or just put a new tube in or whatever was necessary.

CD: So they actually had the parts like . . .

PA: Yes.

SA: Oh, yes.

CD: That’s kind of modern in a way then, wasn’t it.

PA: Yeah, it was.

SA: Yeah, we’d just pull the chassis and put one in and take it back to the shop. There were five of us girls that worked on it and the rest were operators.

CD: And you did the same thing?

PA: Well, I worked on the mechanical end. You had this machine running at so many rpm and all these things just going.

SA: One layer would move faster than the top layer, so there were a lot of gears and . . .

PA: Gears and drive shafts and motors and brakes. When you get a signal, it would be close to going on at 1800 rpm and they’d get a signal and that’s what this chassis did. These tubes would be all fired. Well it would go past it, the machine would, and so when you’d get a signal it had to back up. And when all them lights, them tubes lined up, then the brakes stopped it right there. And that’s how the signal went through all them circuits. It was a monstrous . . . miles of wiring and . . .

CD: That’s amazing.

PA: Yeah. It was.

CD: That sound more amazing than the chips they have today to do the thing.

SA: Well, I don’t know.

CD: Well, I meant that just the way it worked.

PA: Them chips today would take care of that whole bombe.

CD: Oh, would it?

PA: Sure. Unbelievable

CD: That’s amazing.

PA: And they don’t put out any heat.

CD: Yeah, that would help. That’s funny. Well, . . . I’ve tried to think of other things without . . . can you think of anything that that I’ve missed? I know there’s a lot of it. I just don’t want to take up three hours of your time.

PA: No. It’s so long ago. I’ve been retired since 1962 from the Navy.

SA: I haven’t worked on the machinery since ’45, so . . .

CD: It’s been a little bit longer for you. What did you end up doing afterwards? I know you had the children.

SA: Well, I had the children. I followed him around until they were in high school. Then I went to work in a dental office and I worked for the last 19 years as a dental assistant. I retired the year before he did, and we packed up and we left Minnesota and came to Florida ’cause we got tired of shoveling that white stuff.

CD: Yeah, I can understand that. [Shirley laughs.] That’s a long time.

SA: And then we took up motorcycle riding and we . . . so we traveled on a motorcycle for the next ten-twelve years. And went from here to Alaska and all over the country.

PA: California. Hit almost every state in the United States.

CD: Well how in the world did you carry all your stuff with you?

SA: Oh, we just packed very small. [Shirley laughs.]

CD: Very small.

PA: We had a little luggage trailer that hooked on the back.

SA: And we pitched a tent.

CD: And you were in your sixties at this time.

SA: Oh yes. Seventies.

PA: Went through . . . actually last year I finally got rid of my last motorcycle.

SA: Gold Wings.

PA: I had to have an operation on my back and I lost pretty much use of my right leg . . .

CD: Oh, really?

PA: And, uh, so I haven’t been on a bike then. But I went through four Honda Gold Wings — that’s the big ones.

SA: You went riding up until last October. He’ll be 80 in January, so he was riding all through his seventies.

CD: You could have just had her do the driving and . . . (SA and CD laugh.]

SA: I sold mine. I rode behind him most of the time. I had a small one, but it was nicer to let him. Now I can back seat drive.

PA: We had many, many trips, campouts all over the United States.

CD: Sounds like a lot of fun.

PA: In the summer time when it got too hot in Florida, we took off.

SA: Our longest trip was over 11,000 miles. We’d take off for about three months and just meander. And then when we got home the kids would say, “Where have you been?” and so we’d say, “Well, it’s your turn. We worried about you, now it’s your turn to worry about me.” [SA and CD laugh.]

CD: Well, I’m sure you called in home every month or so, didn’t you?

SA: Well, every once in a while we’d call . . . we’d check in, but like I say — their turn.

PA: Well, one is in Hawaii and other one is in Jacksonville, Florida, and they’re not in our backyard anyhow. So . . .

CD: That’s funny. They’re in their 50s or 60s now?

SA: Uh huh. Fifties.

CD: Fifties.

SA: One is 48 and the other is 54.

PA: We lost one. He was in a motorcycle accident.

CD: Oh my.

SA: He was 24 and he was down in the Virgin Islands. He was an underwater guide off the island of St. Croix and he’d dive down and take you scuba diving down through . . .

CD: Ohhh.

SA: And the one in Hawaii is a deep sea diver and now is in underwater construction and he’s lived out there since ’76. So we go out every other year to visit and see him.

CD: I don’t think that he could complain about you guys being on motorcycles then, compared to what he does. [CD and SA laugh.] It’s like, gee, I’m sure you were worried a little bit about that.

SA: Oh, yes. He seemed to enjoy it and now he’s . . . we’ve all had some pretty exciting . . . our oldest son, he went into the Navy and he retired out of the Navy so he’s still living in Jacksonville.

CD: That’s great. That’s wonderful.

SA: So that’s . . .

CD: Well, I tell you, I’ve really . . . I don’t know if you kept up with any of the women that you . . . or you with any of the men . . .

SA: A few.

PA: A few. Not too many.

SA: Those here, we weren’t with as long and so we did keep up with those for the next twenty years that we would meet from station to station. It was always interesting to see new faces and old faces. You know, we’d meet someone that was in ADAC with us and we’d meet them over in Germany a few years later and it was nice. And so those we kept more in touch with than here.

CD: Yeah.

SA: Of course the girls all changed names and so you lose track of them.

CD: Well, it seems like — not that I’m putting down the men when I say this, but men are men, you know what I’m saying. But it seems like the ladies, they were special.

SA: Oh, I think they were just adventurous. They just decided that men had enough fun, we could have fun too.

CD: But just think of what that was like in that generation, though, to even have that attitude. I see my mother who is about the same generation. She wouldn’t have considered going off on an adventure.

SA: Well. When I left home before I was 18 and ?? and I decided we were going to save enough money and then go until our money ran out and then we’d get a job. So we did for about a year and a half. And I guess my folks were smart enough to know I was going with or without their blessing, so they gave me their blessing. So I bummed around for about a year and a half, worked in Seattle, Washington, and San Francisco and Los Angeles, then came back to Salt Lake and roller skated and then I went to Madison, Wisconsin.

CD: That’s great. Thank you.

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    Our documentary aired on American Public Broadcasting from 2006-2018.
    DVDs can be obtained in several ways: If you live in the Dayton area, DVDs are sold at the Museum Store at Carillon Historical Park, and at the book store at the Wright Dunbar Interpretive Center, West Third Street. For special orders, contact Debbie Anderson by Email