Part 2 — Part 3
I was born on Saturday, February 2, 1952, in Green Bay, Wisconsin. My sister Phyllis was just over 4 years older than I and my brother David was almost 3 years older. My father, a highway construction engineer, and my mother, a former teacher, had just moved the family into a new house.
I can recall the three children lining up in order by size in the doorway between the room by the kitchen and the hall. It was how they did things in school, according to my sister who was the only expert on such things among the three of us. (My mother later wondered at that story, since it was obvious who was the tallest, but the intent was not to find the tallest child but to emulate what happened at school.)
By all reports my brother was a bright little boy. Once, he and I were playing with our balls and my sister came into the room wanting to play, too. I, being selfish and egocentric, refused to share with her. David resolved the situation by giving his ball to Phyllis to play with and sharing my ball with me. It isn't clear to me exactly why I would share with David and not with Phyllis; I think this is mostly an example of how I would defer to David's lead.
Another time, my mother was gone for the evening. I decided to run away from home. (I've never had any memory of why.) There is a large oak tree at the end of the driveway of that house, and I recall reaching the tree and wondering what to do after I passed that furthest outpost of familiar life. I hesitated a little bit. My father never actually left the house; he stood at the back door with the other children and enticed me to return by describing dessert. It was chocolate chip ice cream, "David's favorite." Until then I didn't know what chocolate chip ice cream was, but its being David's favorite not only caused me to give up my quest but thereafter, at least for the next 40 years, chocolate chip was my favorite ice cream, too. I've suspected that most of my life I've spent waiting for David to tell me what to do next.
But that was not to be, as both Phyllis and David died of polio in August of 1955, just months before the new vaccine became available.
My grandparents lived half a mile away when I was very young, then moved to the next block where I could regularly walk to their house. When the whole family was going, we would drive (now I can't imagine why) but if I was alone I would walk.
My grandparents would often take care of me if my parents went somewhere for a day or an evening. My grandmother would sometimes make me peanut butter sandwiches, because I liked them, and I remember her using cold butter from the refrigerator. That resulted in non-uniform bits of butter under the peanut butter, where I could actually taste butter. No doubt I remember this because I was torn between liking the familiar way that my mother made sandwiches and fun of something different when the butter was cold.
My grandfather was hard of hearing and I was never a conversationalist, so our interaction was somewhat restricted. I remember him always wearing a tie. It wasn't just that he was a businessman and insurance agent; he wasn't comfortable otherwise. On the other hand, I recall him frequently in the basement with his tools making or fixing some small thing. He was also the type who would suggest driving to Niagra on a Sunday afternoon when I was staying at their house. That kind of mild adventuresomeness isn't a trait that I inherited; I was, and still am, the kind who would worry that we wouldn't get back in time for my parents' return. We were back in plenty of time, of course, and then I worried that my parents hadn't arrived yet.
These grandparents are my mother's parents. My father's parents both died before I was born. All I know about them are the stories he told, and eventually wrote for me in his summary of the family history.
When I was almost 8 we had a robbery at our house. (We always called it a robbery, although as an adult I realize that theft was not the primary motivation.) My cousin was staying with me while my parents were at a Parent-Teacher Association meeting. The criminal had a small gun and was still inside the house when my parents returned. He shot my father in the face. I slept through the entire affair until I heard my mother saying, "Alton, Alton, wouldn't it be better if you turned your head this way?" Then I slept some more. I slept until two detectives came to talk with me. Sgt. Fred Matthews showed me his badge and asked me about anything I might have heard. But I hadn't heard anything.
After my father went to the hospital I was sent to the neighbors' house. They had been at the same PTA meeting and had come over offering to help when they saw the police. My mother asked one of the police officers to carry me and I remember going down the sidewalk through the January cold in a police officer's arms. I also remember looking through the windows and seeing the police working the outside of our house looking for a second bullet. Eventually a call came saying that I was going to stay overnight at my aunt and uncle's house (the parents of the cousin who had been staying with me). The call also told us that my father would be all right. I thought the comment about my father was just silly; it was obvious to me that he would be OK, so why would anyone say anything about it? I didn't yet realize that he had been shot. I was assuming the man had just hit him with the gun. After all, I hadn't heard a shot, and my room was right at the spot where it happened.
My father really was shot, and he had a long recovery. Somehow the bullet entered right at the corner of his mouth and followed the skin to the back of his neck where it stopped and was removed. I saw both scars. (In the process, the bullet broke in two and only part was removed at the time. Another part worked its way out years later.) The story is that our family dentist, Lance Mayhew, visited my father in the hospital and was disappointed that a gunshot in the mouth didn't give him a lot of dental surgery to perform. But there was a lot of physical therapy. At first my father wasn't able to talk at all. As he recovered the motor skills for speaking, he often was unable to remember the right word. As an 8-year-old, that amused me no end. Eventually he learned to compensate and function normally, although he never quite completely recovered the ability to find the right word, and in his old age that symptom became more pronounced again.
One time, it was decided that I should have some fish. I recall nothing about how that decision was made. It seems unlikely to me that I would have wanted fish, even though that's what my mother remembered. I do vaguely remember buying the aquarium and fish with my mother. Guppies are interesting to watch as they swim around, but they are pretty limited as pets – how do you actually pet a fish? – and it turned out that they are harder to keep alive than I would have guessed. They lasted long enough to make several memories. I'm not sure that I'd want to try raising fish again, although living in a place where someone else had fish might not be such a bad thing.
Later I got a dog. This was about second grade. Skippy was a black cocker spaniel mix. He was only 6 months old when I got him from a family my father had found through contacts at work. (My memory is that the mother was allergic to the dog and so they couldn't keep him.) We fed him Cheerios on our screened porch at first. My father built a dog house which we put in the back yard. In the winter, we insulated the dog house with newspaper and chained Skippy next to a hole in the wall of the garage which led to an inside pen in which we placed the dog house. This actually worked very well.
My dad was a dog person; my mother wasn't. The agreement was that the dog would live outside, and he never did come into the house farther than the rug at the back door except when he went directly to the basement for a bath.
I say that I got the dog, but that stretches the truth. Skippy was my father's dog when we got him and I was allowed to play with him and feed him. The dog listened to my father, but not to me. As I grew up, the myth of ownership became more and more a reality. By the time I was around 15 or so, Skippy was listening to me and treating me as the dominant male. Almost 40 years later I realized that this change was not automatic, but resulted from my father's choice to defer increasingly to his growing son.
Even so, Skippy was always partly my father's dog. One winter day when I was in high school, it was my father who took him to the woods. Skippy followed a neighbor's dog into the road and into the path of a vehicle. My parents buried Skippy under fieldstones, there being too much frost to dig a grave in the ground.
"The woods" refers to the northwest quarter of the southwest quarter of Section 11, Township 21 North, Range 22 East. This is 40 acres of mostly wooded land located in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin. Much of the land consists of hillside and floodplain along the Devil's River and isn't much good for farming or housing, which makes it all the more valuable to me. My parents bought the land in 1961 along with my Aunt Helen, splitting the cost three ways. My parents bought out my aunt's 1/3 interest in 1971 (so that she could build a house) and transferred title to me in 1980 (so that they could stop paying the taxes).
Once we had the woods, most weekends included a trip there. I usually walked around and played with the dog; in the summer a friend and I often built a rickety raft to play in the river. My mother liked to sit and watch the birds. My father, on the other hand, was far more directed in his enjoyment of the woods. For many years we built log bridges over the river; they would be washed out by the floods each spring. Early springtime was sap season. We collected enough sap to make maple syrup to last the family all year. (Most of the boiling was done at home, however.) Later, we offered sapping as an event for church and school groups, a tradition that my father and I continued as long as he was physically able. My father split cedar rails which we used to rebuild the fences around the property. Some years I would become interested in splitting and some years not. My father, however, kept up his rail splitting into his 80's.
"Church" meant St. Paul's Methodist Church (formerly Methodist Episcopal and later United Methodist) – as it had for both my parents and their families. I was baptized in the old building which was located at the corner of Hubbard and Chestnut Streets, but the cornerstone for the new bulding was laid at Wilson and Division the same year I was born. My father was on the building committee so it is only natural that my earliest memories of the church include the boiler room, the organ loft, the church attic, and scything the long grass beyond the parking lot along the future extension of Kellogg Street.
Building a new building was important in the history of the congregation, but it was hardly central to my parents' conception of the church. They were involved in almost every aspect of congregational life, from trustees to missions, and always the Sunday School program. My father would go off to Official Board meetings carrying his own copy of the Discipline to remind the members how affairs should be carried out. (Sometimes that worked, he later recalled, and sometimes it didn't.)
For a time, the congregation hired Eva Willard in a position that later might have been titled minister of visitation. Housing was provided for Eva in the old fashioned way: various families in the church donated a room and meals for a period of time. Our family was one of those, and while her stay with us wasn't really that long, it was to our house that she returned each year when she visited Green Bay after retiring.
My family was at church every Sunday and for every church dinner, program, and special occasion. Since I was there anyway, I would volunteer for certain tasks that seemed to fit my skills and personality. For example, the church had an excellent stage and I operated the theater lights for the Sunday School programs. When I was a little older, I helped with the sound system during worship services. I helped my mother with Vacation Bible School classes (especially the ones she took out to the woods) and eventually began to teach on my own.
My family was at church every Sunday, but of course Easter was special. It was the tradition during most of my growing years that the youth would lead a sunrise service, often with a dramatic presentation. My parents introduced me to the sunrise service, but they didn't always go themselves. I did. After the sunrise service there was the Easter breakfast, then something of a gap, and then worship at the 2 regular times (9:15 and 10:45). I usually stayed through the entire morning. My family worshiped together at one service, while at the other I often sat in the balcony under the stained glass window of the resurrection. Impressive almost to the point of being frightening, the window depicts Matthew's account with the soldiers falling back "like dead men" as Jesus rises. As much as anything, that window represents for me the power and awe of Easter. I would look at it other times, too, but I didn't want to miss it on Easter.
My parents' involvement went beyond the local church to include Methodist district and conference boards, local ecumenical groups, and the Wisconsin Council of Churches. They became known around the state, to the point that I was frustrated to find that we couldn't visit a congregation anywhere without someone knowing my parents. When I was confirmed, Bishop Ralph Alton was visiting the congregation and assisted with the ritual. I thought having the bishop present for confirmation was special (Methodists don't require bishops for ceremonies) but I thought of Bishop Alton himself as a family friend, a participant in humor about the coincidence of names between himself and my father and about our family being the only cardinals in the Methodist church. My father was a lay member of the Annual Conference for many years, which led to trips each spring to the various places in the state where conference was being held.
Public school was the order of the day. The public schools were prominent in the dominant culture of the time, and the Protestant churches were highly supportive. Both my parents went to public schools themselves. (My father has speculated that his parents moved from Oneida to Green Bay because at the time there was no public school for him to attend in Oneida.) My mother had been a public school teacher until 1946.
I went to Lincoln School, where my father went to school, and in second grade my teacher was Miss Ann Hnilica, who had taught my father in second grade. (She lived for most of a century in her family home down the street on Shawano Avenue and helped to open the new Lincoln School when it was rebuilt.) In first grade, Miss Rosera was my teacher; she was young then but her tenure was nearly as long and I visited her classroom (my old room) when I visited the school decades later. In sixth grade, I played the part of Ebeneezer Scrooge in the school production of "A Christmas Carol" under the direction of my teacher, Henry Kirchoff. There is some question whether I may have been typecast.
Next I went to Franklin Junior High School where I liked most of my teachers but despised the principal, Mr. Zahn. (I thought the assistant principal was OK; Hollister Jansen later became the 1985 Principal of the Year while serving at West High.)
One aspect of my education did not take place in school. My parents brought some of the rest of the world to our family by reaching out to people from foreign lands. They sponsored the Dieter Stein family as immigrants when I was very young; that family moved away soon after. They sponsored the Hans Regnier family who settled in Green Bay for many years and became close friends with my parents. They also welcomed visitors from foreign lands for holidays or other short-term visits, so that I hardly realized it was unusual.
A project to send school supplies to a school in Korea led to a visit by that school's principal. Later, she asked us to sponsor her sister Un Hi to come to the U.S. for college. After that, their brother Byung Hee also came. At first, my parents served as their American mother and father. While attending school at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, Un Hi met and married Cheul Kang, but not before asking permission from my parents as well as her own in Korea. Later on, a younger sister and then their parents immigrated to the United States. The families remained close for many years.
In addition, my parents' work with the Seafarer's Ministry brought many seamen from various lands to our home for a meal or a visit.
Reading was another aspect of my education which advanced primarily outside of the school walls. Without doubt there was reading at school, but I was always ahead of the curriculum because my parents provided a reading environment. When taking teacher education I was told that the single attribute which most strongly correlated with reading ability was the presence of books or magazines in the bathroom. At our house, it was my father's construction magazines — Engineering News-Record and Registered Engineer — which maintained residence on the toilet tank. I've been reading Engineering New-Record since before I could read.
It was my mother who took charge of my acquaintance with books. My older childhood was punctuated by regular trips to the bookstores to buy copies of classics of American literature, such as Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Captains Courageous, and Treasure Island. Other times we went to the public library to borrow books. Life without a library is outside the scope of my imagination (although I would like to pick and choose the librarians).
At West High School I had the benefit of both good teachers and an excellent principal, although George Duplaise found it necessary to retire after my class graduated in 1970. In addition, of course, there was the example of my parents who both had attended West.
Earth Day was established when I was a senior at West, so a small group of us went to the official ceremonies being held at the Brown County Arena. It was a pleasant day with blue sky broken by cumulus clouds. As the speeches went on inside, storms broke outside. Rain was hitting the roof, and leaking onto the platform, and then a very loud noise began echoing in the arena causing many people to rush for the exits (or at least the relative safety under the bleachers). Not us, of course. When we did leave, it was a pleasant day with cumulus clouds breaking up the blue sky. I always claimed the the earth was talking on its day, although no one seemed to be listening.
I was pretty tired of school by my last year. The accomodation made for me and my friend David Whiteman by Mr. Duplaise and several teachers eased the frustration. One teacher told me that he never marked me absent from study hall, assuming (correctly) that I'd be in the computer van. (One computer travelled from school to school in an office trailer.) Mr. Duplaise accomodated our visits to other high schools so as to follow the computer and to the university campus for a movie which was being presented as part of a college course.
Especially when I was young, my father would take me on walks around the neighborhood. We would walk through Fisk Park or behind West High and down Hubbard Street, or we might go up Reed Street to its end at Platten Street and then back down. For a little boy, these were major adventures.
When I was only a little older, we would often go to the railroad, usually the Green Bay & Western tracks that run between and parallel to Shawano and Western Avenues. There we would walk the rails and talk, often about railroads. (My father's father had been a GB&W maintenance of way worker.) When I was a Cub Scout, probably in fifth grade, my father helped arrange field trips to the GB&W with Larry Knutson. Larry was a long-time GB&W official and a member of our church. He showed us the rail yard (between Twelfth and Oakland) including the engine house and the roundhouse, now both torn down, and let us ride on a locomotive and even walk around the diesel engine and generator inside the engine housing.
The GB&W was the closest railroad but not the only one. It was possible to walk to the Milwaukee Road yards farther south. The C&NW mainline ran between Broadway and the river, but seeing the yard required driving north to Atkinson's marsh.
My mother never went walking very much, but we did ride the bus regularly. (My parents never had a second car.) Usually we went downtown – that's where you shopped in those days and there were also places like Kaap's Restaurant, Prange's Pine Room, and Woolworth's where we could eat lunch before coming home.
The main library was also downtown and a frequent stop. The Neville Public Museum was next door. As I grew up, walking to the library and the museum on my own became a perennial personal destination.
When my father me was the district construction engineer he would take me along on visits to contractors on the work sites. I have lots of memories of paving trains putting down new pavement. One time I remember my father, the contractor's man, and probably the resident engineer talking on a job next to the concrete paving machine. The pavers then used a travelling bucket on an arm to place the concrete ahead of the finishing machines and that bucket arm was essentially over our heads. Ever risk-averse, I eventually questioned whether that was a safe place to be. One of the men remembered a similar boom falling at another job, and we all moved to another spot.
I've always thought that a construction engineer was what my father was meant to be. However, during the period after the robbery and due partly to his long rehabilitation, he was transferred to a different job. (The rehabilitation may have been only an opportunity for a reorganization which the State Highway Commission undertook for other reasons. I was too young to know and my father too disabled to object, so the real story is obscure. In any case, the job was given to another engineer.)
As I grew up, my parents made a point of taking me on trips. We went south when I turned 5, too young to remember much. The destination was Alabama and I'm told we went to Tennesee and Arkansas. I do remember watching the ice fade on the Mississippi River as we travelled south and visiting Bellingrath Gardens when we arrived in Alabama. I don't remember any of the friends and relatives, at least not with any clarity.
I have more clear memories of the trip to California, which included San Francisco's cable cars and fishermen's wharf, Knott's Berry Farm, Disneyland, driving in the mountains, and a little park in one of the cities we drove through. I also remember my father commenting on all the lights visible below as we flew back home: All the light we could see from the airplane was wasted, he said. My mother and I weren't quite ready to agree, but he was right.
When I was in third grade we went to Washington, D.C., and visited all the monuments (perhaps not quite all of them), the White House, the Capitol, and of course parts of the Smithsonian Institution.
We didn't travel only within our own country; there was Canada. More than once we travelled to Sault Ste. Marie. At least one time the weather was foggy and drizzly, which of course remains my memory of the city. We took the tourist boat tour through the Soo locks and I heard the guide's complete spiel on boat traffic, regional history, and lock operations even as we went through and watched the locks raise and lower the boat. It was all interesting, but my primary memory is of the candy vendor at the side of the lock. As the boat descended, my father bought Mounds and Almond Joy; one for him and one for me.
And we went to the World's Fair when it was in Montreal. When we arrived, the taxi driver gave us a tour of the city, including the cathedral of Notre Dame. We stayed at the Cardinal Motel, where the clerk at first assumed we must speak French because of our name. (That was a reasonable assumption; some of my ancestors were French Canadians and probably from Montreal.) The fair itself was also fascinating. Two memories are of small things. One, the fairgrounds were kept clean by constant attention; as the workers picked up trash they also set a standard for cleanliness at the World's Fair which modified the behavior of the visitors. Also, the police and emergency vehicles always travelled with their emergency lights running. That was because they were driving through pedestrian ways; they were almost the only vehicles allowed on the grounds (the others being maintenance vehicles and the armored cars hauling out the cash).
After spending time at the World's Fair, my mother insisted that we drive farther into the Quebec countryside. Somewhere along a scenic boulevard nature called. We were in what I remember as a national park, and the only building we could find was a police post — a Royal Canadian Mounted Police post complete with horses. The bathroom was way in the back, through the stable area. A mountie had to go with us to escort us past the horses. (Years later, in 2006, my parents and I were remembering this trip. Each of us had different memories, but my father and I both recalled the RCMP post as a highlight.)
Some of the best trips were a lot shorter and more frequent. We travelled to Milwaukee fairly often, mostly to see relatives or Eva Willard (who had retired to Methodist Manor in Waukesha). Trips to Milwaukee were always to visit people, but we did also go to the horticultural domes at Mitchell Park, the Milwaukee County Museum, or the zoo (which I remember only from its "new", 1958 location). There were also day trips around northeastern Wisconsin. We frequently went to a nearby park or wayside for a picnic, or to the Lake Michigan shore (Kewaunee or Algoma most often) or up the bay shore to Door County and its state parks.
But Madison was the real destination in my mind. My father often went there for meetings (either state business or church business) and my mother and I would go along. Every trip to Madison included the state capitol building and often we went to the zoo at Henry Vilas Park. Frankie Post also lived in Madison; she was active in the University Methodist Church and Wesley Foundation and in those capacities had been a friend of my father's for decades. Sometimes when my father's meetings took up the whole day, my mother and I would travel to the Cave of the Mounds or even as far as the First Capitol in Belmont.
As I became older, my parents must have decided that I needed to learn to travel on my own. (This couldn't have been my idea; I've already commented on not inheriting my grandfather's wanderlust. As an adult, I marvel watching sons of friends unhesitatingly fly across the continent.) The selected mechanism was a visit to the Cheul Kang family, which I did twice. One trip was flying to Sioux City, Iowa, to visit [↗] LeMars. The other, thanks to an airline strike, was by train to [↗] Lincoln, Nebraska, during which I learned that not all rail passenger service in the United States met the same standards as that of the Chicago & North Western.
That weariness of school didn't keep me from going directly from high school to college. (The Viet Nam war and its draft also influenced my decision.) I choose North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, because it was a United Methodist college and not too far away. And because it was small and because it didn't have a Greek-letter society to its name. Many things at North Central were really good for me, and particularly some of the faculty who worked with me.
My part-time job in the residence hall dining room was also a positive experience. I was always the person at the front of the line, taking the dirty trays off the conveyor belt and stacking the dishes in the rack for the dishwasher. I got pretty good at it, and since I worked few enough hours that the work never become oppressive the manual labor was an antidote to academic efforts.
Although there were many good things about North Central, other things added to my school-weariness. Top among these was the factionalism that infected the campus for most of my time there. The dispute contrived by that sociology professor was the most public controversy. Other controversies were fueled by low enrollments forcing cuts to arts programs with long traditions. The college president was not widely liked. College committees seemed to be excessively petty and bureaucratic, seldom able to build on what should have been a close-knit community. The position of college chaplain was eliminated, most likely to eliminate the incumbent of that office. Working on the newspaper (which had its own petty oversight committee) I felt altogether too aware of the college's failings and limitations. Finally, the math department – where I was dual majoring – was not especially strong. The NCC board of trustees was already taking action to rectify the problems of the college, but I decided not to wait for them.
In the middle of my junior year I transferred back to the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay. I say "back" not only because UWGB is located in my home town. My first UWGB course was taken during the summer after my junior year of high school, when the newly created university was still in the building on Deckner Avenue (now Sullivan School). I had taken other summer courses at UWGB while I was attending North Central. Those existing credits and my experience with the campus made it easier to transfer; living at my parents' house and in-state tuition made it cheaper; and it turned out that the concentration that would be the quickest to get, which was the primary factor in my choice of major, had the exquisitely non-descriptive name of Analysis-Synthesis.
I completed my junior and senior years in 13 months. That was too quick to have many good or bad memories. I had some good teachers such as Jerrold Rodesch, specializing in intellectual history, from whom I took as many courses as I could. And I had the fun of out-reasoning the math professor teaching projective geometry, enlisting in that effort the faculty's best expert in logic.
UWGB was started with an environmental focus, and yet it was situated on the far east side beyond any public transportation routes. (Eventually the city bus route was extended, but that was not until after I had graduated.) Everyone had to drive; the parking lots are huge. On Earth Day, it was decided that half the lights in the parking lots would be "permanently defused" as an environmental measure — something which could be undone, and later was, by replacing the fuses. I was convinced, through a dream/vision, that the earth was going to talk back. Again. The day started out nice enough. By noon a northeast wind had risen and a rain and snow mix had started to fall. The bay began to rise; the river began to flood. The defusing ceremony was, I think, completely cancelled. Residents near the campus were flooded out and the approaches to the old bridges through downtown were soon under water as well. The irony was obvious but the deeper meaning, if there is one, has always been just out of my reach.
Given my family's church connections, perhaps it isn't surprising that I expected to enter the ministry from the time I was in junior high school. I researched ordination as a career in 9th grade and majored in religious studies while I was at college. So I was surprised to discover that I had no call to ordained ministry, or indeed to any discernible vocation. In looking toward the next part of my life I turned instead by my hobbies.
I think I had three hobbies when I was young, although I never thought of them under that classification. One was journalism. I had worked on the school newspaper in junior high (where the staff consisted of students selected to take the journalism class) and at West High's Purple Parrot. I joined the newspaper staff at North Central College when I first arrived and the next semester, due to the inanity of the faculty committee which was charged with overseeing student publications, I, still a freshman, was named the editor of the paper. I was too shocked to turn it down. Naturally, all the previous staff quit. With a small staff and large type we managed to put out a paper every week, but the next fall I walked away as soon as I found someone who was willing to run the place for the rest of the calendar year. In January my friend James Kane was named editor and I worked my way into a far more comfortable role as the managing editor with a good staff.
A second interest was photography. I don't recall when or how I got interested; it had something to do with my father's old Kodak with its leather bellows and 610 film which was given to me for Christmas, 1963. In any case, I began doing some darkroom work in high school. I did more in college. When I was editor with almost no staff I sometimes covered the photography myself (not exceptionally well) and when I was managing editor I supervised that area. Plus, I had access to the darkroom for my own photography as long as I supplied my own film and chemicals. My interest in the area waxed and waned, most often waned, in the years since.
The third was computer programming.
The Green Bay Public Schools decided that business students needed some exposure to the new world of computers. The cost in the late 1960s of putting equipment into each of the four high schools was prohibitive, so the district purchased a mobile office which they parked for half a semester at each school. The main focus was on keypunching and card handling, but they did lease an IBM 1620 computer system. (This was a second generation machine. It still used vacuum tubes for some circuits. To offer a 50% school discount without violating antitrust laws, IBM could only provide half the main memory. So we made do with 10 kilobytes of memory, rather than the normal 20 kilobytes.) The typical programming language was absolute machine code. One of the math teachers provided a short course in FORTRAN and I spent many study halls in the computer van. I never was able to use all the main memory, though. While I was in college the schools switched to an IBM 1130. I continued to visit until employment took me away.
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