Memories of youthful machismo

Posted by Tom Camfield

Congratulations to the Leader on the great re-vamp of its on-line edition. I am particularly grateful for the opportunity, via this blog feature, to maintain an active association with this exemplary newspaper that began 74+ years ago when I hired on as a part-time printer’s devil at 40 cents an hour. I was one of the first and have long been he most prolific of the paper’s bloggers. I’ll be 90 on Feb. 1, so I’m pushing the envelope a bit these days. In five weeks I’ll also be celebrating Jean’s and my 67th wedding anniversary. I’m also planning to observe my 72nd graduation anniversary during the annual PTHS alumni reunion in June.

People who viewed me as an unlikely role model for aging in years past have pretty much all dropped by the wayside—but here I am, having juked out death numerous times without losing my cool.

As an introductory blog for this upgraded version of, I will pander narcissism far enough to explain the photos above. It began at PTHS when I joined the the U. S. Naval Reserve about April of my senior year in 1947—as did Bob DeLeo and Bill Wise. We were given a choice of a training cruise to Hawaii aboard an aircraft carrier or to Alaska aboard a destroyer.

I sacrificed a third summer’s work at the paper mill earning college money in favor of a bit of adventure. Hawaii sounded too fanciful, while thoughts of turbulent seas aboard a destroyer in the North Pacific conjured up a more manly vision. I don’t know whatever happened to Bill, but in June Bob and I donned our uniforms and hit the Seattle tavern circuit before we headed out on sister ships the following day.

Later, my battle station was as a powder man in a 5-inch gun mount on the forward deck. I also stood lookout watch, which was outside the bridge with binoculars and quite cold in the late hours.

I survived liberty in Ketchikan, Alaska, where we stopped over the 4th of July. It wasn’t long after World War II—and that town’s hospitality knew no bounds where we in uniform were concerned. We eventually returned to Seattle. I then became inactive Navy (but on call).

I moved on to college in Pullman that fall. There, two years of Air Force ROTC training were required, with further training for officer status discretionary. I spent three semesters studying map reading, doing some marching drill with an ROTC band (trumpet). I quit school when they also demanded that I take a course in learning to swim. I went on through the rest of my life as a square peg abhorring round holes.

After some truck driving and Safeway clerking, I was recruited back to the Leader as a full-time printer (at 75 cents an hour, later $1.25).

In 1950 the Korean War broke out and I readied myself mentally for call-up to active duty on a destroyer. No way. With no college deferment from Selective Service (“the draft”) I took an ordered army physical and soon was shipped off to Fort Lewis in January 1951, just before my 22nd birthday.

I was still in basic training near San Francisco when my 4-year Navy enlistment expired—and an Honorable Discharge came to me in the mail,

So for several months I had served in the Navy and the Army at the same time.

Long story short: As a buck private I was assigned as a company clerk just out of basic, was soon flown to Alaska to replace a staff sergeant in headquarters of a field battalion. Six months later, back to battalion headquarters near Presidio, about to get married early in 1952, I demanded, and received, corporal’s stripes. I took my ’53 discharge and finished college at nearby UC Berkeley.

In 1954 I again was recruited by the Leader. By early 1958 (having just turned 29) I was publishing a California newspaper. Late in 1960, I again was recruited back to the Leader, for a final stint of 28 years.

That was just a beginning. Whatever else it has been, my life has never been boring.

POLITICAL NOTE: Did you all read last month of Trump’s desire to deport Vietnam War refugees who have long lived in the U. S.?


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Justin Hale

Really Tom, you think the Leader did a fine job in their rebuilding the online website? As usual we disagree. What the Leader did is a fine example of fixing something that wasn't broken, and they did a masterful job of screwing up what passed as a mediocre website. Going on two months now and they still haven't got it working right or at least as it was before they "fixed" it. They don't even give you attribution for your blogs, and they wiped out all of the comments. I won't be surprised if this comment never gets posted, we'll see.

As for your comment about the Trump Administration wanting to deport Vietnamese refugees, as usual you tell half the story. Here is the part you leave out....

Katie Waldman, a spokeswoman for DHS said: “We have 5,000 convicted criminal aliens from Vietnam with final orders of removal—these are non-citizens who during previous administrations were arrested, convicted, and ultimately ordered removed by a federal immigration judge. It’s a priority of this administration to remove criminal aliens to their home country.”

What is wrong with that?

Tuesday, January 22, 2019