Sunday, August 31, 2008

“I Resign” Follow up = The University Year for Action Program

The trainers we had brought in to help train the Board of Directors of the local poverty program were from the Federal Region VII ACTION office in Seattle. This was the office that oversaw all of the various ACTION programs (including the OEO –poverty programs) in five or six states. They enjoyed my resignation tactic at the training retreat and had my contact information so one morning I got a phone call at my university office from one of them. “Drake, do you think your university would be interested in running an off campus program similar to VISTA but getting students involved in community service agencies while still getting academic credit and training in the field they are working in?”

“Sure,” I said, “Put us down as interested.” I was informed that I would be contacted again when decisions would be made as to which universities would be invited to submit a proposal for consideration in the initial round of grants. I immediately called Ralph Munro, head of the Washington State Office of Voluntary Action, and asked him about this call. “Oh,” he said, “that is the University Year for Action” program. I just came back from Washington, DC, where I helped design it. Drake, you should call Jerry Brady, National Director of the program and convince him that Western Washington University should be in the first group of universities to be funded.”

So I immediately called Washington, DC and got through to Jerry Brady. “How many schools are going to be funded in the first round?” I asked. “Eleven.” “How many are already selected?” “Nixon announced the program at Little Rock, Arkansas so the first program will be there. No other commitments have been made as yet.” I continued, “Put Western Washington University down as the second to be funded.” “Whoa, slow down.” Brady said. “First you have to fill out all the necessary forms.” “OK, send them to me. How long will it take for you to respond once we have the forms filled out?” “We will take no longer than you take to fill them out.”

I got the forms in two days and took three to fill them out. The following week Jerry Brady was out to visit our university and we got funding as the second university in the nation with that program. The Dean for Research and Grants named me as Program Director a post that I held for the next several years. The UYA program initially generated an immense amount of ill-will on campus where traditional academics felt students could not learn anything if they did not attend daily lectures taught by Dr. Ego himself. It also generated hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in grant money, something that makes university administrators drool.

Well, we worked it out and if the proof is in the pudding, we succeeded beyond our dreams. Now, 35 years later the program has morphed into what is called the Human Services Program in the Woodring College of Education. It currently has over 400 majors in that program who are getting their university degrees while working in social service agencies throughout the state and attending classes especially designed for them once or twice a week in the evenings, on week-ends or in special seminars held in their region of the state.

One of the campus academic departments that worked with us early in the program was the Speech Pathology and Audiology Department. We placed their volunteers in public schools to help the speech therapists in their work with students who needed such help. This program was deemed so successful that such an internship is now a required element in getting a degree from WWU in that field. Such is also now required for State Certification as a speech therapist in public schools.

The program almost was killed, though, when a new Regional Director for ACTION was appointed in the Region VII Federal Office in Seattle. The woman appointed to that post was a former Republican Senator in the Washington State Senate. She held our university President and Dean for Research and Grants in very low esteem because of the contumelious manner in which those two clowns addressed the legislature when giving testimony at legislative budget hearings.

A warning call came from a staff person in Washington, DC, telling me that our proposed third-year budget was to be cut by one third by Marge because of her prejudice toward WWU. Two days later the caller informed me that he was wrong, it was to be cut in half. I called Marge in Seattle and asked for an appointment to meet with her and her staff. I took with me two of my staff. Due to my “I Resign” stunt several of her staff knew me and were supportive of our proposed programs. We eventually went over every element of our program, item by item, budget figures and personnel needs. To my delight Marge not only approved our proposed plan as originally submitted but also increased some elements that she felt we were under-budgeting!

The Dean for Research and Grants took the final grant proposal to Washington, DC for submittal but while there he did some ‘adjustments.’ After his return I received a phone call from one of the D.C. staff telling me what Dean xx had done but that his call had to be confidential as the Dean had gotten him to agree not to tell me of the change. A bit later the Dean for Arts and Sciences called me and said “Drake, this is in confidence and you are to tell no one but you should be aware that Dean xx adjusted your UYA program by inserting a young lady as ‘liaison’ between your office and his.” The next day I got a phone call from the person who would be replacing me as Director of the program as I was going back to the classroom after two years of serving as full-time director. He informed me of this change also but, again, stated that I was not to react to the information as I was not supposed to know about it. So I waited for another three days until I answered the phone and a very angry Marge was on the line demanding an explanation of this change in the program after she had agreed to the one we had worked out with her and her staff. I told her that I was waiting for her phone call and now that I officially knew of the changes I would go and confront Dean xx. I asked, “Are you telling me that if this ‘liaison person’ is not removed from the grant proposal it will not be funded?” “Correct!”

When admitted to his office I asked the dean how things had gone in Washington, DC and whether he had any trouble with the grant. “No,” he said with a big smile, “Everything went beautifully.” “Well it may have while you were there,” I responded, “but the shxx has just hit the fan and if you don’t remove your pretty liaison from the grant the university will loose it as it will not be funded in its present form. And,” I added, “the world will know why.” This bully turned beet red and started shouting “Remove it. Remove it! Put it back as it was and get your axx out of here.” Plus a lot more expletives. As I left his office he slammed the door as hard as he could. His staff in the outer office were shaking and looked down at their typewriters as I left the office. Before returning to my office I went to the Academic Vice President to report what had just happened as I was still an un-tenured faculty member and could be subject of dire repercussions. I was assured that nothing would happen to me so I went to my office and called Marge in Seattle and told her of the result of my meeting with the Dean. She commented “That didn’t take long.” I responded, “No. but I’m going home (11 a.m.). I need a drink.”

If any one in their naivete thinks such things do not happen in academia they have to be roused out of their sleep. Dirty politics and underhand dealings are not limited to Washington, DC. Such has a potential of happening where ever there is a resource available for distribution, universities and poverty programs included. I am all for ‘transparency’ and ‘public accountability’ and since I am an activist and not a mere academic I tend to get involved more often than is good for my career.

More of that later.

‘nuf for now.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

RX for Foreign Dignitaries

For about 30 years I served as host for the United States Information Agency ‘International Visitor Program.’ This was a program that brought foreign dignitaries or influentials to the United States for a 30-day tour of the country to better know the US, its people and culture. If they wanted to visit to the Northwest I would get a call as I did one day “Drake, would you be willing to host a 3-day visit by the Minister of Fisheries of Morocco? “Sure, send me the resume and I will organize his appointments.”

When I got the resume and found out the interests of Minister A, I called one of the members of our Port Commission, Ed Griemsmann, who was a retired Air Force pilot. Ed agreed to escort Minister A on his tour of the local fishing industry, the largest freezer plant in the world, the Alaska Ferry terminal, etc, etc. I had pointed out to Ed that Minister A had listed in his resume “President, Private Pilot’s Association of Morocco.” “That’s interesting,” said Ed, “I’ll take him up for a ride.” Ed owned a bi-plane that he kept at the local airport.

On the afternoon of the last day of Minister A’s visit Ed asked if he would like to go for a ride in a bi-plane. “Oh, that would be nice.” He innocently replied and went with Ed to the airport. What Ed did not tell him was that he was a stunt pilot. I leave it to your imagination what Ed did with this distinguished foreign dignitary! Rolls, loops, dives, drops, flying upside-down, etc. "A" claimed he thoroughly enjoyed the ride but I did not know how much until I got a phone call from someone in the State Dept. several weeks later.

“Drake, you did it again. We had an interview with Minister A before he left for Morocco and found out that after a 30-day tour of the United States all he wanted to talk about was Bellingham. Tell me, Drake, who the hell was that pilot?”

Maybe we should do the same with all visiting Ministers of State! It might help our foreign relations. Thanks, Ed.

(Ed died last week and I am posting this story on his obituary blog.)


I Resign!

Shortly after arriving in Bellingham almost 40 years ago I was appointed by the university president to serve as the university representative on the Board of Directors of the local poverty program called the Whatcom County Opportunity Council. The Board was composed of 1/3 public service agency bureaucrats, 1/3 elected officials and 1/3 persons representing populations in poverty. I was a bureaucrat. I quickly saw that the organization needed some serious changes and, I felt, one of the first was to get rid of an officious, incompetent and grossly insensitive Executive Director.

Well the chance to do something about this came shortly as there was to be an election of officers for the Board of Directors. Most of the board members representing the poverty populations had become friends of mine and they wanted me to run for President against the person nominated by Rabi XXX, who was a one-person nominating committee. The Rabbi was very upset when I declared that I would stand as a candidate for the office of President and not accept his recommendation that I be listed as candidate for Vice President. I was breaking precedent and this was deemed inappropriate by many of the politicians and agency bureaucrats on the board. To resolve the issue three of the ‘influentials’ that had a lot of impact on how the organization was run called me to meet with them over coffee one morning at a local restaurant.

I was asked what it would take to get me to ‘back off’ and not run against the official candidate. I responded that I would do so if (a) the board agreed to have a consulting firm come in and conduct a training session on how to operate as an effective board of directors and (b) the official nominee would have to walk up the street to the office of the organization and tell the Director that he would be fired regardless which of us were elected. The official nominee for the position of President of the Board of Directors was called and within 30 minutes did just as he was instructed so when he then joined us at the table and told us what he had done I accepted the position of Vice President on the official slate. At the next meeting of the Board of Directors all hell broke loose when the official ballot was distributed and those who supported me for President found out I was not running against the official candidate. My buddies thought that I had sold out. The new slate was voted in and the first order of business was to begin the process for removing the executive director and the second order of business was to plan for a retreat for a week-end of board training.

When the board members gathered for the retreat the new Board President felt that there would be too much conflict in the room as many of the members were angry that he was the President rather than me. He felt he could not handle the conflict that was going to occur so he asked that I chair the gathering, which I did. I began by iterating the order of the day, how we would proceed with the training program but was interrupted by a Native American board member who stood up and asked in a loud voice why I had ‘jumped ship’ and allowed myself to be bought off by the conservative old guard. He wanted to know what kind of dirty back-room shenanigans were going on. So, with the Executive Director who was on his way out of the organization not in the room I explained what happened. “So what?” he responded, “The Executive Committee hasn’t really changed, it is still a bunch of white bureaucrats.”

“Well”, I said, “Let us see if we can change that. With the new board now in place we need a nominating committee to prepare for any Executive Committee vacancies so I name you Tom (Native American), Don Jose (Hispanic) and Mabel (welfare mother) as the new nominating committee. “This is all a sham” was the response. “There are no vacancies to fill!” “Oh yes there is.” I responded. “I herewith resign as Vice President of the Board of Directors” and as I said that I turned around and on a large sheet of newsprint on a pad attached to the wall in front of the room I wrote "I Resign." I gave it to the new member of the official nominating committee and told them that by the end of the day I wanted their official nominee and we would vote on it immediately so the position could be filled before we went home. That is how the organization got a Native American from the Nooksack Tribe as Vice President. He moved on to the Presidency the next year and did a good job. The training session went smoothly after that brief interlude.

'nuf for now. gfd

Monday, August 25, 2008

Singing a Song of Democracy

Hello my fellow patriots:

Back at the time of he U.S. Bicentennial Celebration I was a member of the Bellingham City Council. Late one night just before the City Council meeting adjourned I raised my hand and when recognized by the Council President said that I was disturbed by local Bicentennial celebrations. We had a carnival come to town. We had fireworks, We had a parade. We had all kinds of recreational activities but we had nothing that celebrated the fact that the Revolutionary War was about local governance. I proposed that the City Council hold a celebration honoring local government. "Good idea," said the Council President. "I appoint you a committee of one to organize such a ceremony. Any more business?" Before he banged the gavel closing the meeting I said "I need a budget." "$300", he responded and, banging the gavel said "Meeting adjourned."

What I did was to plan a ceremony to be held in the old City Council chamber in what had become the 'rotunda room' of the city museum. We invited every living former elected official in city government. As I recall we had seven former city Mayors and over 35 former City Councilmen attend the meeting. They came from southern California, Hawaii and Florida and places between. A fancy certificate was printed honoring them for service to the City of Bellingham. I wrote to the President of the United States and to the Governor of the State of Washington asking for a message to be read at the ceremony. President Ford and Governor Dan Evans both responded with statements to be read on their behalf. We had a local brass band play some Revolutionary War music and had members of the local Theater Guild read statements from patriotic documents of the time of the Revolutionary War. I invited a 94 year-old poet to read the message from the U.S. President - but first she read one of her own poems on community service.

As Master of Ceremonies I took the opportunity to give a speech for the occasion. It is as follows:

by George F. Drake, City Councilman, 4th Ward
Given on 5 December 1976 in the old Bellingham City Hall Chambers

Walt Whitman, one of America's great writers, begins his famous poem about America with the line "One's self I sing, a simple separate person, yet utter the word Democratic, the word En-Mass."

Were Walt Whitman alive tonight he would surely appreciate this evening's ceremony. He might write again, as he once did, "I hear America singing" because tonight we sing a song of ourselves, a song of citizens in a small town in America celebrating the occasion of their country's 200 birthday. With our prayers, unabashedly and with pride, we give thanks for all the riches we share as a community, the spiritual riches as well as the material. We sing with the words of our president and our governor as they address our meeting tonight. We sing with the voice of the oldest among us as she reads her poetry that touches the heart strings in all of us who share this evening together in this chamber.

We sing a song of ourselves as our pulse beats to the music of the revolution and as the words of our founding fathers are read to commemorate the great ideals on which this nation was founded. We sing a song of ourselves as we recognize that democracy has survived through two centuries by virtue of acts of citizens like those in this room who accepted the civic challenge and dedicated a portion of their lives to the well-being of their community.

We can sing with pride because the system of governance we have in America has worked so well. At the same time we must recognize that we have not fully achieved the ideals of a democratic society. The reality of democracy in America is that it is a process that continually needs to be attended to or we regress. The process we speak of is that of defining our common problems and allocating public resources to address those problems. Problems change, as do answers to those problems, and the dynamics of the ever changing nature of our collective concerns places a continual pressure on those who serve in government to be sensitive to those changes.

A hundred years ago Whitman was singing about the throbbing pulse of America, about its vitality. America is no less dynamic today but it is surely much more complex. Not only has the population grown in number but also in life span. Even more dramatic, though, has been the growth in technology and new knowledge. Old problems are no longer the same because new knowledge forces a redefinition either of the nature of the problem itself or of the answers he have open to us as alternatives for action. In addition we have thrust upon us a new array of concerns which local communities have not had to consider before. The new language used indicates the changes: CETA, Title XX, CSA, LEAA, AAA, Revenue Sharing, Block Grants.

Many of these federal programs or laws call for an increase in local initiative and autonomy in allocating federal dollars in general areas of concern. The old way was to send dollars for streets, sewers, parks, computers. In other words, the priorities were established in Washington, D.C. But now local communities have to establish their own sense of priorities about those things they wish to spend the federal dollars on.

The new federal laws have laid out strict guidelines for involving citizens in the decision-making process, not only during December when public hearings are held on the budget but at the very beginning of the process when problems are defined and also later when they are prioritized and adjusted to meet the resources available. The New Federalism process is, in effect, forcing local elected officials to invite the ordinary citizen into a broader partnership of collective problem solving efforts. What is happening at the federal level is also happening at the state level. Only yesterday we received copies of three new bills being studied by committees of the state legislature. Each of them called for a process of citizen involvement to establish the particular program goals and objectives at the local level.

In the third century, U.S.A., I predict we shall see a much greater involvement of citizens in governmental decision-making. We know full well we lack the resources to solve our every problem but as we come to recognize that perhaps the greatest resource of a community is the talent and good will of its citizens the elected officials will seek ways to develop that civic partnership wherein together, the elected official and the people, will strive to address those concerns of greatest priority. The elected official will not have less to do but as all citizens join together to face the problems of the future we know we will succeed to a higher degree because of the increasing strength of our democracy.

Tonight, the 25th of August, I read this speech over once more and decided that I would not change a thing that I said on that occasion. So here it is, as I wrote it.



Sunday, August 24, 2008

I was accused of being a Boy Scout!

Hello my Scouting friends:

The phone rang this morning (Saturday, 23 August) and when I answered a voice said "George, your Boy Scout Good Deed is known by everyone in this retirement facility." The fellow on the other end of the line had no knowledge that I had anything to do with scouting but felt that my behavior epitomized the public image of a Boy Scout doing his 'good deed.'

What happened was that when I parked my car near my office on Friday I spotted an elderly man leaning on a post office box looking at a map. I asked if I could help and he said he was looking for the Ace Lock Company. He needed a key made. He didn't look too steady on his feet so I said "You can't get there from here on foot. It is too confusing. Let me take you and I opened the car door. He gingerly got in and we took off. The shop was only four blocks away but I was not too sure he would have been able to make it. I waited while he had his key made and then took him back to the bus terminal, a block from my office. He told me that he was 94 years old and had terminal prostate cancer and was encumbered with a large pad but that he was determined to do everything he could for himself as long as he could. Nonetheless, he appreciated my offer of a ride and thanked me profusely. He asked my name and I told him.

My caller said at the dinner table that evening he asked the group if any one knew George Drake and found that several did. He told the story of our encounter. The story passed around the dining room and the consensus was that if I ever ran for City Council again I would have every vote in the place. What pleases me about this little anecdote is that if you do a good deed you are accused of being a Boy Scout. I hope Scouting can hold onto that reputation but on the other hand I hope doing good deeds is not limited to Boy Scouts.

Even before I joined the ranks of 'old folks' (78 qualifies me, doesn't it?) I used to engage older riders on the city bus in conversation. One day I asked a little old grey-haired woman sitting next to me how she had earned 'pin money' when she was a child. A smile crept across her face and she responded "I used to buy ponies from the Indians and break them to the saddle and then sell them. That was fun!" and it was obvious from her big smile that the memory of that enterprise really pleased her. Whenever I saw Floyd Chandler, well into his 90s, on the bus, usually sitting by himself, in a loud voice I would ask, "Floyd, is it true that there used to be a bear pit at the end of the road here?" and that was all he needed totell anyone who would listen about the bear pit and the amusement park thatused to be in the neighborhood. Folks riding the bus would stop their chatter and listen to him tell his stories. There's stories all around us if we would stop to listen. Maybe you have to prime the pump to get them going but everyone has stories. One time I asked a man obviously in his 80s or older what was the funniest thing that ever happened to him. He began to laugh and said that he was on the city police force when they got their first cars and within a day he crashed his at a street intersection into the other car purchased by the police department at the same time. So both new cars were now laid up for repairs and he and the other officer were back on foot patrol.

One time I was trying to be nice and was rudely brushed away. It was at Tikal, the incredible Mayan ruins in the Peten jungle of Guatemala. A group of visitors from the American Museum of Natural History was touring the grounds listening to an anthropologist who was responsible for some of he excavations. This was obviously a group of museum docents, donors, etc. as they all seemed to be elderly and well dressed. Some of the stone steps were over 8 inches high and very narrow. I was next to a woman probably into her 80s who seemed to be a bit unsure of herself going down that steep stairway. I offered her my arm to help steady her as she descended. She
literally snarled at me "If I want your help I will ask for it!" Others in her group looked aghast at her crude response to my offer but said nothing. I responded, "Lady, I think your mother just rolled over in her grave. She probably taught you manners when you were a little girl. What happened as you grew old?" Shocked silence. This woman was obviously a wealthy dowager, supporter of the museum, etc. and used to being kow-towed to. She glowered at me for a few moments and then, reaching out her hand for my arm said "You are right. I apologize. Thank you for your offer." The group applauded.

You don't gotta be afraid of old folks. Just talk to them.

More stories later.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Las Vegas Photo Exhibit

Hello my long suffering friends:

Here is another long post. When I decided to tell the story of the relationship of our servicemen and women to the children of Korea during the Korean War I felt one way to do so was to create a photo exhibit with pictures taken from the thousands that I had collected. In a recent post I told of the opening of that photo exhibit in Gwangju, Korea. Herein is the story of the first showing of that photo exhibit in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on 30 June, 2005. We decided to have the grand opening of the exhibit in Las Vegas because that was where Chaplain Russell L. Blaisdell, Col. USAF (Retired) then lived. He was in his 90s and in poor health so we took the exhibit to him.

The photo here is of him at the dedication of the Korean War Children's Memorial Pavilion in Bellingham, Washington on July 27 of 2003.

Russ was the hero of the Kiddy Car Airlift that rescued over 950 children on 20 December of 1950. I will tell his incredible story in another posting. His family raised the money to pay for the first printing of the photo exhibit.

I e-mailed a friend of mine in Virginia, Link White, a Korean War orphan who is now a successful realtor, and asked him for ideas for a program for the opening event. He suggested that we invite the well known Hollywood actress Ms. Terry Moore, to be one of the hostesses for the evening event. Terry was touring Korea with the USO during the war and wanted to adopt Link. At that time she was married to Howard Hughes. Many were the guys in Korea who had a pin-up photo of Terry Moore in her white ermine bikini. Link opted to be adopted by an Air Force Sgt. but he and Terry kept in contact all through the years. Terry agreed to come and help out with the program and she offered to bring her good friend Jane Russell. Now you younger guys may not have heard of Jane Russell but we of the '50s sure as hell did. In person she, as well as Terry, were treasures, just wonderful folks to work with. We made Terry Moore the MC for the reception and she and Jane served as joint MCs for the evening program.

Link White, Terry Moore, George Drake and Mary Ann Drake

Jane Russell in her dressing room reading over the script for the evening program

Buzz Aldrin, astronaut and Korean War Veteran was the lead off speaker for the program. He came as a 'freebie" as did Jane and Terry. We just had to pay their hotel costs.
---Buzz Aldrin

The main part of the program consisted of presenting certificates of appreciation to Korean War Veterans who had helped rescue the children of Korea during the war. I had located an article in the Readers' Digest telling of a 'Sgt. Who Wouldn't Go Home.' It was about Sgt. Werner Krenzer who had been assigned to work with a civilian relief project and was specifically assigned to rescue the children living like rats in the rail road yard and rail road station in Seoul. He teamed up with a little Korean kid and together they got scores of children out of the RR ghetto and into orphanages where they could get food and medical attention. When it was his time to rotate back to the US Werner offered to remain for another tour of duty in the army if he could continue doing what he was doing with the children. It is estimated that he saved the lives of over 150 children. His story can be found on my web site . I was able to track down Werner Krenzer and he agreed to come to Las Vegas to be recognized for his work on behalf of the orphans of the Korean War. To present to him his Certificate of Appreciation I telephoned a friend in Indiana, Thomas Park Clement who is currently the CEO and owner of a major medical instrument manufacturing company. He is a former Korean War Orphan who lived in that same pack of urchins in the rail road yards of Seoul from age 4 years old to age 6 years old! So, one of the kids from the rail road yards of Seoul presented to Sgt. Werner Krenzer his certificate of appreciation for saving the lives of Korean War orphans.

Werner Krenzer and Thomas Park Clement

I received a telephone call from a Dr. William Latham who said he would be coming to Las Vegas for the ceremony. He told me of how he volunteered time at the Star of the Sea Orphanage in Inchon. One time, he said, a little day or two old infant had been found and taken to the orphanage when Dr. Latham was volunteering. He and the other doctors saved that infant's life. The little infant was later adopted by the commanding officer of a naval air craft carrier and taken back to the US on that ship. When little "baby George Ascom" was placed in his bassenette on the deck the announcement went over the PA system telling the guys on the ship that they could visit the baby. He became know as "the Navy's Baby" and many years later a 'made for TV' movie was made of that infant and his trip to America. Dr. Latham suggested that I should find that movie and show it at the exhibit ceremony in Las Vegas. Well, I did better than that. I found the baby. I called him, now named Dan Keenan, and asked him if he would like to present to one of the doctors who saved his life and other children in the Korean War a certificate of appreciation? Would he? You bet! So, on stage I called Dr. Latham forward to be recognized for his loving care for the orphans at the Star of the Sea Orphanage and specifically for helping save the life of little "baby George Ascom." After telling his story I said, "And now to present the Certificate of Appreciation to Dr. Latham is that very baby. Dan Keenan will you please come forward." There wasn't a dry eye in the place.

Dr. William Latham and Dan Keenan

And so it went all evening. Lots of tears. Lots of hugs. Lots of emotion from the Koreans present as well as the veterans and their families. Even my wife got an award. Link White called her up to the stage and presented her with a large red paper heart on a ribbon with the letters P U G printed large on the heart. That was her "Putting Up with George" award.

We had gathered there Korean War Veterans who had saved the lives of well over a thousand children and not a single newspaper in America carried the story. Except for my home town of Bellingham, Washington where the Bellingham Herald generally covers activities relating to this project held in Bellingham (they did not cover the Las Vegas or Gwangju, Korea events) not a single newspaper in America has carried the story of the Korean War Children's Memorial project. On the other hand when a US military vehicle accidently runs over two girls in Korea newspapers around the world carry the headline of how American soldiers killed two Korean girls. Yet tell the same newspapers we saved the lives of 10,000 children and they yawn. "What's the story line?" they seem to be saying.

Worse yet, we had sent an invitation to the Korean Ambassador in Washington, DC to come and honor those who had saved the lives of children orphaned by the Korean War, or, if he could not come to send a representative or even a letter to be read to the audience. We got no response from the Korean Embassy. We sent a letter to the Consul General of Korea in Los Angeles, asking the same but not only did no one come from the Korean Consulate General's office but he, too, did not even deign to send a letter or to respond to our request.

The photo exhibit honored the American GIs who had saved the lives of over 10,000 children in the Korean War and not a single representative of the government of Korea found it appropriate to attend. If this were any "civilized nation" of the world the Prime Minister or someone of high status would most certainly be present. Not Koreans. Why? I think I know why but that will be the subject of another entry. This is enough for now.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Scouting in Korea 1952


Boy Scouts of Korea in Seoul, Korea 1952

One day in November (?) of 1952 while serving in an army unit located to the north of Seoul I got a one-day pass to go to Seoul to do some shopping and exploring. As I wandered around that devastated city I came upon a Boy Scout leader with a group of ten Boy Scouts in front of a small building that had a sign across the front that read “The Smallest YMCA in the World” and another vertical sign “YMCA.”

Since I had already visited Boy Scout organizations in over 20 countries of Latin America and Europe I was delighted to have this encounter with Boy Scouts in Korea. The leader spoke some English so we exchanged remarks and I took the photographs shown herewith. This particular branch of scouting began under the aegis of the YMCA and that is where they had their offices. You will note in the photos that the YMCA was demolished by bombs during the war and the little structure labeled "Smallest YMCA in the World" was built of bricks taken from the rubble.

The scoutmaster told me that they had lost everything in the war and had nothing left in their Boy Scout library. When I was discharged from the service in late December of 1953 I went to the Monmouth Council Boy Scout office in New Jersey and purchased a copy of every publication that they had and sent two boxes of books to this “Smallest YMCA in the World.” This was the beginning of the new library of the Korean Scouts Association in the Seoul YMCA. The letter I received acknowledging the gift pointed out that future letters would be sent by surface mail due to the cost of air mail postage, a clear indication of the financial state of the organization in early 1954.

In August of 2006 I spent two days at the Korea Scouts Association National Patrol Jamboree in Cheonan, Korea. I showed the photographs to scout leaders there and they recognized that the scoutmaster in the photographs was Chung Seong Che, one of the founders of scouting in Korea. I was told the photographs were valuable for the history of Korean scouting as Chung Seong Che was kidnapped by North Koreans shortly after I took the pictures and never seen again.

Since all of their files of the Korean Scout Association had been destroyed in the war these photographs were unique and had saved a bit of the history of Scouting in Korea. The photographs are now published in a book on the history of scouting in Korea.


Don't Shoot the Messenger


Hello friends:

In August of 2006 my photo exhibit "GIs and the Kids - A Love Story" opened in the new city hall of the Metropolitan City of Gwangju. The exhibit told the story of the relationship of American servicemen and women to the children of Korea. In doing my research on that topic in the U.S. National Archives in College Park, Maryland and in the archives of the Pacific Stars and Stripes in Tokyo, Japan I collected over 2,000 photographs. Those, in addition to the ones I took while a serviceman in the Korean War and others that I copied from books and magazines or that were sent to me by Korean War veterans, constituted the source of the photos in the exhibit. The exhibit consisted of 35 panels each about two foot by four foot. It takes about 100 linear feet to hang the exhibit. Rev. Haeryang Yoo Kim of Gwangju had purchased a copy of the photo exhibit and added Hangul translations for most of the English titles of the photographs. It was through her efforts that the exhibit had its first showing in Korea in the new Gwangju city hall.

Little did I realize the impact that the exhibit would have in Korea. I was mobbed by the press. Never before had I been confronted by a veritable wall of photographers, TV cameramen and reporters.

I have 54 pages of newspaper clippings about the exhibit. The story was on all the TV news channels that night. The public affairs officer of the US Forces - Korea told me that this was such a refreshing breath of fresh air as most media coverage of the US forces in Korea had been very negative for the preceding decade or more. He was even more astonished by the fact that the exhibit opened in the City Hall of the Metropolitan City of Gwangju as Gwangju is known as the hot-bed of anti-Americanism in Korea. Airmen at the local U.S. missile base do NOT go into Gwangju in uniform and are not well received there even in civilian clothes. At the ceremony opening the exhibit the commanding officer of the US base and all the servicemen and women were invited to attend = the first time they had ever been invited to any function in city hall.

A 36 page booklet had been prepared by my hostess, Rev. Haeryang Yoo Kim, as a program for the day's events in which all the speeches to be given by the dignitaries were printed in English and in Hangul (Korean). When I read the speeches that were to be given I was appalled! It was all about George, George this, George that. Everyone was missing the story. The story was about the tens of thousands of servicemen and women who helped the kids, not about George. I quickly spoke to the official interpreter and gave him my new speech to look over and be prepared to interpret for the Korean speaking audience. When I was finally introduced by the Mayor of the city I went to the microphone and said, "When a messenger comes bearing bad news it is not nice to shoot the messenger."

I paused and a number of persons laughed. Then I said "and if the messenger brings good news it is totally inappropriate to make the messenger into a hero." I let that sink in for a bit while the interpreter rendered it in Korean. I continued "I am not a hero. I am merely a messenger. I have a wonderful story to tell. It is a story of love and compassion in the middle of a war. It is a story about our servicemen and women who saved the lives of over 10,000 children in the Korean War. Don't mistake me for the story. I am a sociologist. I am a story teller." And with that I sat down.

Gwangju Mayor Park Gwang-tae was very pleased with all the publicity the event generated and offered to make me an "Honorary Citizen" of the Metropolitan City of Gwangju. Feeling that such a formal ceremony would even further spread the story of how the American servicemen and women rendered humanitarian aid to the children of Korea during the war years I agreed to go back to Korea for the ceremony provided he made it clear that he was honoring me for saving this wonderful bit of history of the Korean War and as a representative of all those GIs who did so much for the kids fifty some years earlier. At that ceremony in early December of 2006 I was once again surprised at the amount of publicity the event was given but much to my pleasure the emphasis was on the story that I had saved and the orphanage museum that I was helping get created in Gwangju. When the mayor placed the collar of flowers around my neck I broke out laughing as I felt I had just won the Kentucky Derby. It was a lovely ceremony and I enjoyed every bit of it....especially the dinner later at the Chung Hyun Memorial Orphanage where the orphanage museum and archive will be developed.

'Till later,


Thursday, August 21, 2008

I'm a Broken Hearted Deutcher

George and Roy about 1934

Hello friends:

When I was born back on 3 July of 1930 there were identical twins born instead of only one kid. The woman in the bed next to my mother in the hospital remarked "Don't cry lady, one of them usually dies." Ever since, my brother (Roy) and I would argue which of us is dead. When I was about 12 years old I found my mother's scrap book with photos of her as a flapper, dressed with her bowler hat, scarf, etc. She also had a clipping of a poem written in German accent pasted in her scrap book which I promptly copied and memorized. Let's see if I can still remember it now 66 years later.

I'm a Broken Hearted Deutcher

"I'm a broken hearted Deutcher
dot ist filled mit crief und shame.
I'll tell you vot the troubles ist.
I do not know my name.

You dink dis ist very funny, eh,
But when you de schtory hear
You vill den not vonder so very much
Vy it ist so strange und queer.

You see mine mutter had two little tvins
dey vas me und mine brudder.
Vi looked so very much alike
you couldn't tell vich from di utter.

Von of our pays vas Jacob
und Hans di utter's name
But it never made no difference
Vi both got called da same.

Vell, one of us got dead
Ja, meinjeer dot ist so
but Hans or Jacob mine mutter
she don't know.

So now I am in troubles
I can't get tru mein head
Vetter I am Hans vot ist living
or Jacob vot ist dead.


So now I am in troubles, I can't get tru mein head, vetter I am George dot ist living or Roy vot ist dead.
May he rest in peace.
Roy Drake, S.J., 3 July 1930-21 August, 2008..

Photo: George and Roy about 1934.


Taking American Values Abroad

"Distinguished Benefactor" pergamino

Hello my friends:

About 46 years ago, when J.F. Kennedy was President and Edward R. Morrow was head of the United States Information Agency, I was sent by the USIA to serve as Director of the Centro Colombo-Americano in the city of Manizales, Colombia. There was a concern on the part of the State Dept. that this city was a hot bed of communism in the country and needed a strong U.S. presence to counter the propaganda and the activism of the communists. So this youngster, a mere 32 years old at the time, was sent to try to present democratic idealism as practiced in the United States to the citizens of that province.

Those U.S. Cultural Centers, American Libraries, English Teaching Centers, etc., were a way to put a U.S. presence in cities throughout the world. Most of them were supported, in large part, by providing English as a second language classes. Even though these centers usually were locally registered corporations the US government selected the directors and paid their salary. So it was in Manizales. I was the second person to hold the role of Director of the cultural center in Manizales, a city of about 250,000 population. The center was located on the main street in town, on the second floor of an old building, above a hardware store. It had no heat even though the city was at 7,000 ft. altitude. It was a drafty, cold and damp building. Eventually we purchased our own building and restored it to its historical character and made it a truly wonderful cultural center only two blocks from the central plaza of the city.

One of the first things that I did was to decide that the mornings I would spend in my office and the afternoons I would be out in the community getting to know the various social institutions operating in the city. I also spent a lot of time walking in the slums and talking to the residents, trying to get to know the people and the needs of the community. It wasn't long before I had the BNC (Bi-Natinal Center) involved in many community service activities such as providing literacy classes for the poor illiterate persons who lived in some of the squalid slums of the city. Before coming to the classes held in the BNC they would scrub themselves and come in their best clothing washed for the occasion as they would be rubbing shoulders with children of the middle and upper class families who were studying English at the same time they were learning to read and write their own language.
"Community Development Seminar" pergamino.

We expanded the programs in the BNC to include training in operating photo laboratories as no such course was available in the country, to our knowledge. We had classes in mechanical drawing, auto mechanics, music appreciation, art, natural science, anthropology, typing and secretarial training. Many of these classes were taught in other locations and some of them were free or offered at a minimal cost to the participants. We also sponsored many seminars or lectures on community development oriented to the directors of social service agencies in the city. The Manizales BNC became a center where local organizations could meet and discuss common issues they faced in attempting to provide social services to populations in need in the community. On occasion, when a particular social problem faced a wide portion of the community the Centro Colombo-Americano was where the meetings would be held so the public and relevant service agencies could come together to discuss the issue and decide on a collective course of action. On occasion this got the BNC into trouble with local authorities.
Pergamino naming me "Adopted Son of the City"

Such was the case when the milk that was being brought to Manizales for CARE was impounded by the railroad because the governor of the State of Caldas had not paid the shipping bills for many months. Given this action on the part of the railroads the local administrator of CARE decided to close their operations in the state and move elsewhere. I saw this as a real loss to the community and, with the agreement of the Director of the CARE office in the city, called a meeting of the representatives of some of the major social service organizations in the city. When this group was told of the situation and the eminent loss of the milk that CARE was providing to orphanages, 'gota de leche' programs, food programs for the poor, etc, they decided to seek an appointment with the governor to protest his failure to abide by the state agreement to pay for the shipment of the milk from the port to the city of Manizales. The governor was furious that this had been made a "public issue" and demanded to know why the citizens were meddling in the affairs of the "government." The citizens committee stated that this was the affair of the people of the state and not a private affair of the governor. With the public 'eye' on him (the newspaper had a reporter at the meeting) the governor agreed to sign a new contract with CARE and to pay the outstanding bill owed the railroad so the impounded milk could be released.

Reaction to the role the BNC played in this affair varied. Local citizens commented that the BNC was perhaps the only place in the city where such a meeting could have been held and served as a demonstration of the role and responsibilities of citizens of a democratic society. The U.S. Consul in Cali, in whose district the BNC was located, was not too pleased with the involvement of the BNC in this issue as he felt it was getting involved in political action which could threaten the BNC standing as a 'non-political' organization, (Duh!) He felt this notwithstanding the philosophical basis for the action but accepted it as "well done" since there were no repercussions. I felt that the BNC was merely offering a channel of communication between the interested parties so that civic responsibility could be accepted by the persons affected by this situation.

The list goes on and on of such involvements on my part in the life of the community for the two years and two months I spent in Manizales. On my departure the Mayor of Manizales, Dr. Fernando Londono Londono, one of the wealthiest land owners and coffee growers in the nation, former Ambassador to France and to the U.N., formerly head of the conservative party of the

--- nation, granted me, my wife and infant son David the title of "Honorary Citizen" and presented me with the "Keys of the City in Gold" for my work. This was the first time such was ever presented to a foreigner! And this merely because I was trying to teach by action the role of a responsible citizen in a democracy.

Now most of the Bi-National centers are closed or no longer play a role in the spread of the ideology of democracy. Even the United States Information Agency no longer exists. It's role is replaced by contract PR firms in Washington, DC whose job it is to place favorable articles in foreign media telling the poor how good we are. We no longer fund people on the streets to promote democracy in the poor barrios as well as among the oligarchy. Read the ordinance written by Dr. Londono Londono bestowing 'Honorary Citizen" status on me and my family and wonder if such work could be replaced by a P'R firm in Washington, DC. I am also showing here several other honors I received for these activities. One is a 'pergamino' or illustrated sheep skin on which is written "The attendees of the seminar on Community Development as an honor of gratitude [ presents this] to Sr. George F. Drake for his valuable services given to the city." It is signed by the attendees but the signatures are fading now after about 44 years.

Another pergamino is a large one on which is written: "The society of Manizales positively laments the absence of the distinguished caballero Jorge Drake, appreciates his life and his work as an example for the community and feels pride in declaring him, 'adopted son of the city.' This document is signed by over 100 persons who attended a banquet hosted by the governor of the state the week before I left to return to the USA. Another pergamino, this time painted on a sheet of plastic cut to represent a real sheep skin, is from the Rector, Faculty and Students of the Francisco Jose de Caldas industrial trade school. That school was attended by some of the poorest boys in the city and when it collapsed in an earthquake I had the Centro Colombo Americano raise donations in Colombia and in the USA to help in its reconstruction. (resource mobilizing). I also intervened with the state government in getting some things done for the school by state entities. (political mobilizing using influence). This pergamino reads: To Senor Jorge Drake: The Rector, the Professors and Students of the Instituto Tecnico Industrial Francisco Jose de Caldas, appreciate the multiple assistance of Senor Jorge Drake and take honor in proclaiming him "Distinguished Benefactor of the Establishment." It is signed by the administrators, faculty and students of this very poor industrial trade school. This is but one more sign of the breadth of our work in this city. No PR firm in Washington, DC can replace this type of American representation abroad.

When my wife and son and I got on the plane to leave Manizales I wept. I loved that city and felt truly to be a part of it. I had been deeply involved in the dynamics of social change in the city, from work in the poorest slums to working on projects with some of the wealthiest citizens of the nation. So, why did I leave? It wasn't because the Embassy was fed up with my activities. On the contrary, they gave me the highest performance evaluation possible. It was a family matter. Our son, David, is Downs and needed better medical attention and professional training than was possible to acquire in Colombia. It was a choice of keeping the family together and go back to the 'states to teach or to work on the Ph.D. or to separate with me remaining in the Foreign Service pursuing the goal I had dreamed of for many years. I chose family and went back to the United States but Manizales will forever have a place in my heart.

Como siempre,


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Spelunking at Las Grutas de Cacahuamilpa



Looking into my box of 'keepsakes' I found some letters that I had typed and sent home to my mother in Manasquan in the early days of February, 1949. One of those letters told of the trip I took with a group of Rover Scouts from Group VII in Mexico City to the caves located near Taxco. The upper caves are well lit and developed for tourists. The cave we entered had no such amenities as lights, steps, cables, etc. I sure wished that I knew Spanish at that time so I could have communicated with the scouts and told them of the path that I found when I climbed way above them looking for a way forward into the caves. I went back to Taxco to explore more caves five or six years later but that is another story.

To more easily read the scans of the original journals click on any one of the page images.


Monday, August 18, 2008

What I said & Democracy in Action

Hello my friends:

Several days ago I told how I was asked to give a spontaneous presentation to a group of about 300 poor slum dwellers meeting in the Communist Labor Federation building in Manizales, Colombia. Well, to the best of my memory, here is what I said:

My dear friends it is an honor to be here with you this evening and to listen to your stories of how you are participating in the life of your community, barrio by barrio. You tell of raising money to purchase a bottle of aspirins. You tell of forming committees to call on government officials to present to them your concerns about the help you desire from the government to address the needs in your barrio. I see here, in this room, that you are accepting your civic responsibility as a citizen in a democratic society.

Two weeks ago I met with Sr. Jose Galat in the national presidential palace in Bogota. He is the director of the program called "Integracion Popular" which was instituted by President Carlos Lleras Restrepo to help strengthen democracy in Colombia. The goal of this national program is to strengthen democracy by helping organizations such as yours develop among the two thirds of the citizens of this nation that are 'marginados' and do not have access to the resources of the nation. I commend you for your participation in this gathering here tonight and for your labor in improving life in your neighborhoods. That program, instituted by the president of Colombia calls on you to define your collective problems, to prioritize them, address them through "accional communal" (collective action) and to call on the government for help when and where needed.

As an American representing the people of my nation I want to thank you for the privilege to be with you this evening and watch democracy in action in Manizales.

The next day I received a phone call informing me that the head of the secret police (DAS - the FBI of Colombia) in the state wanted to see me. I went to his office and he told me he was very upset to hear that I was lecturing a group of communists and encouraging them organize against the government. I told him that I knew that he had one or more agents in the room the previous night and that if he wanted I would give them an exam to see if they really paid attention to what I had said. I then asked him if he wanted me, on my next visit to the presidential palace in Bogota, to inform the president of the nation that he, the local DAS director, was opposed to the policy of the president when it came to working with groups of the poor? He blanched at that and assured me that he merely wanted me to know that I was talking to a group of communists and that I had to be careful. So I left thinking that democracy will have a hard time to grow in Colombia.

The program of Integracion Popular was similar to other programs in Latin America of the same time such as Accion Popular, Participation Popular, Accion Communal, etc. What is interesting is that Dr. Carlos Lleras Restrepo, President of Colombia, knew exactly the political implication of what he was proposing. Jose Galat , the man he put in charge of the program, explained it as follows:

"If we wish to save our Democracy, we must be sure that the common good is also available to the marginal man (2/3 of the population of Colombia that do not partake of the "good" produced by the nation for popular consumption.) But, and here is the root of the problem, we can not hope that the common good be FOR the marginal man while at the same time it is not obtained, oriented and decided WITH them and BY them also. In other words, in order that the marginal individuals become beneficiaries of the common good it is necessary that they be permitted to participate as agents and protagonists of the same. And this implies, logically, a redistribution of political power."

Of course, such a redistribution of power never happened. The oligarchy, the elite, the current power holders, however you want to call them, made sure that such efforts on the part of the poor failed. Good intentions and pretty words alone can not bring about such changes in the nature of decision making in a society. The least threatening form of community action is where the citizens get together and through collective action buy a bottle of aspirin or raise a barn. Such action generally is non-threatening to the holders of power in the society. That is called 'resource mobilizing." It is when citizens get together and demand a redistribution of existing resources such as seeking a minimum wage law or a redistribution of land so the poor can raise food for their families or want a home loan program that would allow the poor to borrow money and build a home that the power holders get nervous. Such action is 'political mobilizing' and is calling for a redistribution of existing resources, not the generation of new resources. I define power as the ability to allocate collective resources and it is comprised of 'authority', the right to make decisions based on position or role in an organization or social system and 'influence' which is based on the personality and personal relationships of the 'social actor' involved in the decision making process.

So, what does one do with all this reading, visiting barrio groups and studying social power structures in Latin America? Well, on arriving in Washington State to take up my position in the Sociology Dept. at Western Washington State College (now 'University') I decided that I would do a study on the power structure of the Hispanic community in the state. I began with a simple questionnaire sent to over 1,200 persons such as mayors, county commissioners, county health officers, school district executives, chiefs of police, sheriffs, all elected city, county and state officials and many other "community knowledgables" who might know something of their Hispanic neighbors. I asked "If the governor were to appoint a committee to advise him on the needs of the Hispanic population in the State of Washington who would you nominate to that committee from the Hispanic population in your jurisdiction, whether or not you know them personally?" The questionnaire wasn't out more than a week when I received a call from the Governor's office asking that I come to Olympia to discuss my research with one of his staff. I was informed that the governor was already planning on setting up such an advisory body and wanted me to be a (volunteer) staff to that committee. Yup. Glad to do so and for a number of years I traveled all over the state, often in the Governor's plane, to attend meetings of the committee, helped them write reports and helped draft legislation. What started out to be the 'Governor's Mexican American Advisory Committee' now, 40 years later, is the 'Washington State Hispanic Commission."

Ah, yes, democracy in action.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Scouts thinking on their feet!

Hello Friends:

When doing my research in the slums of Manizales, Colombia, I attended a meeting of the Central Nacional Pro-Vivienda, a national organization seeking housing for the poor. The meeting was held in the Communist Labor Federation building. The organization had close ties to the communist party in Colombia. I was told the meeting would start at 8 p.m. and arrived at that time. The building was in one of the poor barrios of the city of 250,000 population. Guarding the entrance were two six-foot tall members of the mounted police carrying assault rifles. They were there to 'keep the peace' (read: intimidate those who would attend the meeting.)

When I entered the room I found that the meeting had already started. Seated on narrow benches without any backs were about 300 of the poorest of the poor to be found in that city. The weather, at 7,000 ft. altitude, was not only chilly, it was downright cold and yet many of the attendees had only ragged cotton shirts or blouses and no poncho, coat or sweater. All benches were full and many persons were standing in the rear of the room. I stood behind them but since I am fairly tall I was quickly noticed by the chairperson who stopped the meeting and announced "Please welcome our guest this evening, Dr. Drake, from the United States who is here representing the people of that great nation, not the government. Dr. Drake, please come forward and join us up front." I had not expected that and was quite embarrassed as I went to the front of the room to the sound of a loud applause. There I tried to hide behind a file cabinet so I was not so conspicuous.

The gathering was an assembly of representatives from each of the barrio committees, each of which had their own community projects. I listened as a representative from one of the barrios told of their community health project. She and her friends made empanadas (bits of dough folded over a bit of vegetable or a bit of meat and fried) which they sold to persons walking in the city parks on Sundays when the poor people were out walking and enjoying a day off from their jobs and activities. The woman reported that after several weeks they had made enough money to purchase a small bottle of aspirin which was now the proud possession of the barrio health committee. If someone in the barrio got sick they could go the the community health committee and get a free aspirin! The audience gave her an applause for her report.

Sr. Elias Oliveros, President of the organization, then pulled a fast one on me. He announced "Dr. Drake will now make a presentation." Everyone applauded as he turned to me and asked me to come forward and speak to the assembly. I was aghast! I had no speech ready. I wasn't forewarned that I would be called on to address the group. What could I possibly have to say on behalf of the citizens of the United States to this assembly of some of the poorest citizens of the city?

What would you say?

Think about that for a bit. What would you, an American citizen speaking on behalf of the people (not the government) of the United States, have to offer this assembly?

I will tell you what I ended up saying two days from now. Meanwhile here is your chance to think about what you would say to those poor folks who are dreaming of having a house of their own, even it it is not much larger than 100 square feet in size, if that. You can say it in English and I will interpret for you. That is your homework assignment. ;- )


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Climbing Mt. Popocatepetl

January, 1949.

I was enjoying a ‘night on the town’ one Friday evening with a group of Rover Scouts of Group VII, Mexico City when the question was posed to me “Would you like to climb Mt. Popocatepetl?” Of course I agreed immediately. A couple of the guys got on the telephone to call around to see if anyone else in the group were interested. Arrangements were made to meet the rest of the fellows the next night at midnight. That settled, then I went with the fellows to various scouts homes to gather gear for the climb. The next night German and I were at the meeting place early. Soon the bus that we had hired came along. There were to have been about 20 boys going but only 13 showed up. That meant that the expense would be greater per boy but we fixed that later.

At 3:16 a.m. we arrived at the point where the road ended. Some of us decided to start climbing immediately. The others slept for a while. There was a good path to follow most of the way up the lower slopes. It was very easy to follow in the moonlight. A Rover Scout by the name of Mateos came along side of me and said “Let’s go!” The others were already straggling behind.

Mateos kept up a steady pace which I soon found I could not follow. The climbing was very steep and the air was getting thin. I could only go about 300 feet and then had to stop for a few minutes for my heart to stop pounding. In that manner I was able to keep up with Mateos fairly well. Then I lost him. I called to him and heard his voice from above so I started climbing the slope nearby. The slope was all right for a while then it grew steeper and steeper until I had to make use of the ice ax to cut a hold in the mountain side. Eventually I got to the point where the going was easier. Mateos was waiting for me. He had gone up a slope to the left of the one I went up. It was much easier than the one I used.

We then started climbing together. The wind was very strong and at times we had to force the spike at the end of our ice ax into the slope and lean forward on it so as not to be blown over. The wind blew many stones loose far above us which came tearing down at terrific speed. They weren’t more than eight inches in diameter for the most part but would hurt plenty if we were hit. To add to our difficulties the wind would often blow some sulfur fumes from the crater upon us.

It was very cold climbing, especially at that time of the morning. I lost feeling in my feet soon after leaving the bus. We wore several pairs of socks, gloves, a woolen cap that covered the ears and chin with only the face exposed and a heavy jacket. When the wind grew so bad as to blow sand in our eyes we put on goggles. We had the ice ax in one hand. It is a tool with a hoe-like blade on one side of the head and a pick on the other. On the top of the handle is a spike which we often used in climbing. We had steel spikes, called crampons, attached to our shoes.

As we were going up we could see many towns in the distance looking like patches of light. As the sun came up we could see the towns themselves. Directly in back of us was Iztaccihuatl with its three snow covered peaks. Its name means “the sleeping lady.”

Mateos finally sat down and admitted that the conditions for climbing were worse this time than any of the four other times he had climbed Popo. He would go no further. He said it was not worth the risk. I went about 100 ft. more but was still about 300 ft. from the crater. There was a party of four hikers up there at the same time as we were. They also went no further so I didn’t feel so badly in not completing the climb. As it was, Mateos and I were two of the four out of the party that reached the ice cap. None of us go to the edge of the crater.

It was almost impossible to go down the slope we had just come up without use of the crampons and ice ax. When we were about half way down we stopped and had breakfast. It would be quite something if I could have a view for breakfast every morning that I had on that morning! That is one of the satisfactions you get from climbing a mountain, the view. Only birds and those in planes see the same thing, it is wonderful!

German and Cocolicio met us on the way down. They were the other two of our party who got to the ice but they, too, returned because of the falling rocks and the extreme wind. A swift descent brought us to the place where the bus and the rest of the group awaited us. We then started back to Mexico City. To help pay for the cost of chartering the bus the boys changed the sign from “Especial” to “Mexico, D.F.” and picked up passengers along the way who were charged a reasonable fare. Not only did they get a cheaper ride to Mexico City than they otherwise would have they soon became involved in the singing and games the scouts were playing as the bus hurtled down the mountain to the city far below. German taught us all to sing the song of the elephant dancing on the web of a spider. At the end of each verse another boy would join those already singing the song until all were singing. Then we played hat games, also while singing a scouting song.

The fellows in Grupo VII of the Boy Scouts of Mexico City did not usually make decisions to go on a hike of this nature just the day before the actual climb but they were intent on having this Gringo Boy Scout have the experience of climbing Mt. Popocatepetl and knowing that I would be 'hitting the road' soon they made a quick decision and were able to put it all together in only one day. I am glad that I was able to put on a good show, notwithstanding the high altitude and the rugged nature of the hike. After all, the reputation of the Boy Scouts of America was at risk. I had to show that U.S. Scouts also could handle themselves on mountains. Maybe those thoughts imposed a bit of pressure on me but in reality I went and thoroughly enjoyed this adventure with the guys from Grupo VII because I loved this type of adventure. I truly appreciated that the fellows of Grupo VII were so friendly and accepting of this strange kid from across the border who couldn't speak any Spanish. In the fullest sense of the word these fellows portrayed the brotherhood of Scouting.

[This story is based on entries in my diary of my trip from New Jersey to Panama in early 1949. Gfd]

Popocatépetl (commonly referred to as Popo, El Popo or Don Goyo) (IPA: [popoka tepet ]) is an active volcano and, at 5,426 m., the second highest peak in Mexico after the Pico de Orizaba (5,636 m). Popocatépetl comes from the Nahuatl words pop ca 'it smokes' and tep tl 'mountain', thus Smoking Mountain. Popocatépetl is linked to the Iztaccíhuatl volcano to the north by the high saddle known as the Paso de Cortés, and lies in the eastern half of the Trans-Mexican volcanic belt. [from Wikipedia]

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Rocks and Minerals Merit Badge 1947

Photo taken at Monmouth Council Merit Badge Show in Asbury Park. Date? Probably in 1947. My booth which I set up by myself as a Lone Explorer Scout was next to the Cycling Merit Badge booth. Little did I know then the role Cycling would have later in my life.

Hello friends:

It seems all children in grammar school somewhere along the line are exposed to dinosaurs and fossils. When I learned that one could find fossils in coal I took it upon myself to look for such in our coal bin at home since our house was heated with a coal burning furnace. After several hours of sitting on the coal pile and examining hundreds of chunks of coal I had a few nice specimens of ferns. I also had some VERY dirty clothes and badly needed soap and water myself. Therein began my collection of fossils, rocks and minerals. A year or so later I spotted an interesting rock in an empty lot not too far from our house in Irvington, New Jersey. It had impressions of shells on it. As I recall, the rock was about six foot long and about two foot wide. I did not know how deep into the ground it extended. With a big hammer and chisel I broke off a piece and took it to the Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey. Someone on the staff identified it as fossiliferous sandstone containing brachiopods.' In 1943 I donated that specimen to the museum and shortly received a note of appreciation with an indication where my donated rock was now to be found on display. Woopee! At age 13 I had my own fossil discovery on display in a real museum with my name on it! With that I started collecting rocks, minerals and fossils in earnest. When at Philmont Scout Ranch in 1946 I collected all the rocks I could and ended up with a knapsack with 34 lbs. of rocks which I ended up shipping home to Manasquan from the scout ranch.
A photo of George with his skull collection

In Manasquan High School I built my own beam balance and jolly balance to ascertain the specific gravity of minerals. I studied how to use the Bunsen burner and various reagents to test for the chemical content of minerals I was analyzing. In school I took on the role of maintaining a science display in the school library. One of my teachers was taking Saturday classes at Rutgers University and I would ride with him there from time to time and then spend the day in the museum. Not being shy I soon got to know a number of the staff. Before long I was borrowing material to take back to Manasquan High School for display in the library. Not satisfied with that I would take the Jersey Central or hitch hike to New York City and spend delightful hours visiting the laboratories and offices of staff that were 'behind the scenes' at the American Museum of Natural History. I would gain access to the staff scientists' offices by taking a fossil or mineral specimen that I wanted help identifying. It worked and I am sure I became a real pest up there.

Lone Explorer Scout George Drake in his 'Rocks and Minerals Merit Badge Booth' c. 1947

[Why is it when you think you have a good photo of yourself in some public activity there is always a little kid in the foreground picking his nose? :-) ]

Once I took my collection of rocks and minerals to a Boy Scout Merit Badge Exhibit held in Asbury Park, probably in 1947. There I had my own Rocks and Minerals Merit Badge booth next to the Cycling Merit Badge booth. It was a job to get that display case to the show but somehow I was able to con friends into letting me put it on their truck and get it there and back.

I also had my collection of skulls, pressed flowers, woods (tree cross sections), shells, Indian arrow heads, plaster of paris casts of wild animal foot prints, butterflies, natural and man made textile fibers, beetles and whatever else caught my fancy. I had my own museum in the attic of our house. It was fun, educational and a great hobby. For the most part my collections were based on things that I could collect myself in their natural environment. I probably could identify every wild flower within 20 miles of my house, knew where to look for arrow heads, fossils of various sorts, etc. That is how come I got the job as Nature Counselor at Camp Cowaw at the Delaware Water Gap in 1948. There I collected snakes. Lots 'a fun.

When I graduated from Manasquan High School in June of 1948 I donated most of my natural science collections to the school for use of other students.

I am including herewith some photos of those collections.



Monday, August 11, 2008

Counting Our Blessings

Neighbors and Friends

At a meeting of some of the poorest citizens of this city perched 7,000 ft. above sea level, high in the Andes I noticed a woman trying to read a newspaper. I say 'trying' because she was holding it up side down and only on seeing a photograph did she turn it around. I asked her for permission to visit her residence as I was studying how folks such as she lived. "Oh, mister, my dwelling is very humble. I don't think you would be interested in visiting me." "On the contrary," I responded, "I want to visit persons in all social situations." She gave me the number of her house in Barrio Galan and suggested that I call at 2 p.m. the next day. The health department numbers all shacks in these slum neighborhoods.

The next day at 2 p.m. I knocked at the door frame of the indicated shack. Looking inside the open door I noticed a large bed frame. One family lived above the bed frame and another lived underneath it. The dwelling was less than three meters by four meters in size. I informed the occupant that I was looking for Sr. Fulana de tal (Mrs. so and so). I was informed that she lived "en los bajos." (in the basement.) The shack was built on a steep hillside so I went around back and looked into a small space cut under the floor boards of the shack above. Every time some one walked in the unit above dirt would fall down on the residents of this poor space. A single light bulb of about 20 watts illuminated the darkness even though it was two in the afternoon. The electricity was stolen as someone had tapped into the city power line.

The woman I had met the evening before was there and apologized for her humble circumstances. With her was her husband, lying on a litter in the limited space that they occupied. I was informed that he had a broken back and could not work. An infant was crying. The woman gave the baby a bottle that had colored water in it. I inquired what she was feeding the baby and was informed that she had put a bit of panella (sugar from sugar cane) in the water as that was all that she had to feed the child. She explained that they had another child about 10 years old who was mentally retarded but one day he went out and never came back. She thinks he was probably kidnapped to work on a farm as slave labor. But she has never heard of him again.

To begin the interview I asked her where she had come from before she lived in this barrio and was told that she and her family had fled from the countryside as the violence there threatened their lives. [this was the time of the civil war called "La Violencia en Colombia."] I followed up this question by asking "How do you like living in this barrio?" and I will never forget her response. "God has given us such wonderful neighbors, weare blessed. When we arrived a neighbor nearby came with a small cup of soup to welcome us to the neighborhood. Yesterday another neighbor brought us several bananas. We truly feel lucky and count our blessings to live in such a wonderful neighborhood."

Ah, yes, let us count our blessings.

During this time my wife and I were living with our two sons in a three bedroom house in a nice residential neighborhood of the city. At noon, when we were having our meal, if there was a timid knock on the door we would have one of our boys answer the door. If it was a child from the local orphanage begging leftovers (pidiendo sobreitas) we would have him go to his plate and share some of his food with the kid at the door. We wanted our sons to have the ability to recognize that they were blessed and should share those blessings with the less fortunate in this world.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Walk a mile in THEIR shoes

On one occasion when I was in one of the worst slums (tugurios or barrios bajos) in the city of Manizales, Colombia I was caught in a torrential downpour. I pressed tightly against the wall of one of the slum shacks hoping that the small overhang of the roof would keep a bit of the rain off me. The door to the shack opened and an old woman appeared and invited me to step inside and get out of the rain. "Thank you, Senora," I said, "but I really do not want to disturb you." "No problem," she responded and again invited me in. I stepped inside this little dwelling, about nine feet wide by nine feet long, barely large enough for a bed and a small table. It was the epitome of poverty. The woman looked ancient, dressed in black and looked like she was only skin and bones. I wondered how she managed to live under the conditions I envisioned from her surroundings so I said to her, "Senora, I am a college teacher. You and I will never meet again. I would like to tell my students about persons like you who live under the most trying circumstances. May I ask you several personal questions? Would you help me inform my students about how you live?"

She studied me for a few moments and responded, "Si senor." My first question was "How old are you?" "72" "Do you live alone?" "Yes." "How do you survive? How do you get the income to pay your rent, purchase food and other necessities?" She quietly said "I am a whore." "How much do you charge?" "Whatever I think I can get. Sometimes ten cents, some times more." "How many times a week do you have visitors?" "Not too often, three, four, five times. It varies." "Is that enough to live on?" "Barely."

Then with emotion she said "Mister, when you tell your students about me tell them that this is not the way I thought I would live when old." Then, with emphasis and almost shouting she said "But I have the right to survive!" [Pero yo tengo el derecho de sobrevivir!] "Tell your students not to judge me. They have no right to judge me. If they think this is not what an old lady should be doing have them find a way to help me. But do NOT judge me. I do what I have to do to survive and I HAVE THE RIGHT TO SURVIVE!"

I apologized for having disturbed her and, passing a bit of money to her, I assured her that my students will be deeply touched at her situation and would fully understand her feelings. The rain having stopped I departed.

I have often thought about this brief exchange with this poor woman. Don't we have an expression "Do not judge a person until you have walked a thousand miles in their shoes?" or something similar? My experiences with the refugees of war torn Korea as well as with the extremely poor in various nations (including our own) has taught me not to judge but rather to try to seek understanding. To make moral judgments without understanding is merely prejudice, i.e., a pre-judgment. I am not suggesting that we suspend all judgments or evaluations of the behavior of others but rather that we delay such judgments until we have sufficient information to allow us to do so without prejudice. Not a simple matter, to be sure. I do not pretend that I am without prejudice but I sure try to correct my thinking and my behavior when I become aware or am made aware of such prejudices on my part.