Category Archives: Family

Keeping Up The Pace!

After I checked in the other day on Facebook, while at the KP Pacemaker Clinic for an update on my device’s performance, I noticed a lot of my friends aren’t exactly familiar with what all this means. Please allow me to explain what is happening and how my device works.

I have known for decades I had an electrical problem with my heart. My doctor told me a long time ago I had a right bundle branch block, which I could live with indefinitely or which could kill me in short order. I never let it bother me and figured I would live my life as best I could and not worry about dropping dead.

At the beginning of this year I started noticing I was having problems with heartbeat irregularities and I contacted my doctor. To make a long story short, it became apparent I was experiencing bradycardia (slow heartbeat). One of the diagnostic tools used was what is called a Holter Monitor (it’s a heart monitor, which I wore pasted to my chest for seven days). One night my pulse rate dropped to 26 BPM; not dead, but awfully slow.

After a telephone consultation with a cardiologist—now MY cardiologist—to go over the results of the Holter Monitor and blood tests, we decided a pacemaker might be indicated. That was February 27. Between then and March 3 I had trouble walking from the bedroom to the kitchen, or from the family room to my car, without requiring a moment or three to recover from a feeling of utter exhaustion. I couldn’t fathom living like that for long, so I called my cardiologist to discuss what was going on. I wasn’t scheduled for a consultation on my test results until late March, but that wasn’t acceptable to me. He indicated he had a surgical opening the following Wednesday, March 8, and I agreed to the procedure.

On the morning of March 8, I checked in to the Kaiser Permanente hospital in Woodland Hills, CA and the procedure was performed later that afternoon. I had a Boston Scientific Accolade MRI pacemaker implanted in my chest, just below my left collarbone. The device is about 25% bigger in diameter than a silver dollar, and three times as thick. It’s a nice size chunk of metal I’m still getting used to. It consists of a dual-core processor with 512KB of RAM, a large battery, and two leads – one to my right Atrium and one to my right Ventricle. It is programmed to send an electrical signal to “pace” my heart when it drops below 60 beats per minute. I also have a communication device that sits next to my bed that receives data from the pacemaker and transmits it through a dedicated cell connection to the pacemaker clinic at Kaiser. The pacemaker is also programmed to recognize when my heart rate rises above 130 bpm, at which point the device by my bed (it’s called a “latitude” and is also from Boston Scientific) will notify the clinic.

Two weeks after the surgery, I want for my first device checkup at the clinic. The Nurse Practitioner who manages the clinic advised me that my latitude was communicating properly and she had received data from it. She also told me that my right ventricle was being paced 100% of the time, but my right atrium was being paced far less. She reprogrammed the algorithm in my pacemaker right there (I didn’t feel a thing) and increased the timing between atrial contraction and ventricular contraction. Before I left she informed me my heart was beating on its own.

In The Waiting Room

She also told me the battery indicated it would last for 12 years, but since she had changed the algorithm that would likely change and we would know more the next time I came in. That was last Wednesday, May 24. At that visit I was informed my heart is being “paced” about 40% of the time and that the battery now appears it will last for 15 years.

As of now I will only need to go in to the clinic once a year. I’m feeling good, at least as good as one can expect after almost 76 years of heavy use. So if I use up the remaining battery life—assuming it lasts as long as it predicts—I should make it to 91. Of course, that’s assuming nothing else gets me first, and there are quite a few other things that I have to be careful about. Regardless, I’m thankful I’m reasonably energetic and my brain seems to function as well as it ever has, despite the wear and tear of my party animal past. Life is good, and every moment is precious to me – more now than ever.

Angel Does Pelé

Here’s a video of Angel playing soccer (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) with herself. Between this and her scattering toys all over the house—even outside in the backyard—we’re getting worried about her. We think she may have ADOG. Hopefully, the Vet has meds available to help her out.


Rick 2.0

In retrospect, I should have seen it coming. However, like the proverbial frog in the pot I didn’t realize the water was boiling until it required a drastic intervention. In the past nearly seven weeks, I’ve had the time to reflect on what was happening to me and realize the peak of the problem came up somewhat suddenly, but the signs and symptoms were there for quite some time. The farthest I can consciously go back as of now is to July of 2022.

I believe some of my symptoms were masked by the fact I’d been lifting weights for several years and I was working at a job that was physically demanding, which kept my heart rate up and lulled me into thinking what was happening was normal for someone my age. Every morning when I got ready for work I would pull on my zip-up boots. They were snug and it was a bit of a struggle to slip into them. I usually had to pause for a couple seconds to catch my breath before finishing my preparations for work. I also had to walk between two warehouses at times and was always a bit winded and tired when I got to my destination, which was only about 1,000 yards. Same with climbing one flight of stairs. Some of my problem I also attributed to the fact I was born with club feet, which required major surgery to correct and made walking more difficult than it ought to be.

I lived with these issues for about six months before I experienced what felt like a sudden, drastic change. I was sitting in the lounge of our local Planet Fitness, waiting for my youngest daughter to finish working out. I hadn’t worked out myself and was just biding my time while she was getting in her exercise. When she finished, she came in to let me know and I stood up to leave. I was hit with an overwhelming wave of exhaustion and my knees nearly gave out on me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was likely experiencing syncope (fainting). I was able to make it to the car, but it wasn’t a walk in the park.

We made it home (I have lots of experience driving under, shall we say, impaired conditions, during my well-spent youth) and, checking my heart rate with my Fitbit Charge 5, I noticed it was wildly erratic. The next day I contacted my doctor at Kaiser here in Simi and, although he was not available, I was able to get an appointment with another physician. As a result of that exam, I began a series of tests, including wearing a Holter monitor for seven days. I was also scheduled for a cardio stress test a couple of weeks later.

When I finally (it took longer than I thought it should, but that’s another story) got the results from the monitor I’d worn, they were published for me to read on the Kaiser website and their mobile app, which I have on my phone. Reading the results was sobering and alarming. My heart rate had, at one point, dropped down to 27 beats per minute and I had experienced numerous instances of tachycardia. I also had experienced numerous incidents of AV (atrial ventricular) Block. There was enough jargon in the results that I was able to look up and get enough of an understanding to be quite concerned about my heart. This was exacerbated by the overwhelming exhaustion I was beginning to experience when walking from the bedroom to the kitchen or from the house to my vehicle.

The results were published on February 8, but I wasn’t scheduled to consult with a cardiologist until the end of the third week of March. As I read more about my results and experienced longer and more difficult periods of exhaustion, I became increasingly concerned that I might not make it to the consult. I started agitating for things to speed up. After an phone conversation with a cardiologist, I decided to purchase a KardiaMobile personal EKG device. It turned out to be difficult to get good readings because I have essential tremors in my hands and the shaking is accompanied by electrical activity in the muscles of my forearm, which confused the EKG device. When I could get a good reading, it wavered from normal sinus rhythm to bradycardia to possible atrial fibrillation. This somewhat paralleled my experience, as there were times when I felt quite normal and did not tire easily from a short walk.

I sent some of the results to who was now my cardiologist and, after several phone conversations, we determined there was a good chance I needed a pacemaker. My condition continued to deteriorate and we finally decided an implant procedure was indicated. On Friday, March 3 my cardiologist informed me he had a time slot open the following Wednesday, March 8 in which to perform the procedure. I agreed immediately.

On the 8th my wife drove me to the Kaiser hospital in Woodland Hills, CA and I was admitted for surgery that afternoon. All went well, I stayed overnight for observation, and was discharged in the afternoon of the 9th. My wife and youngest daughter picked me up and we stopped for some Chinese food on the way home. I felt great and continue to heal and recover. I was told not to raise my left arm above shoulder height for six weeks and did not do so. My next goal comes on June 8, when I will be able to swing a golf club again. A week and a half after the surgery I attended an air show at Pt. Mugu NAS and walked over two miles without experiencing any shortness of breath. A week later, I want to Arizona to attend to spring training games and walked over two miles on each of the two days I was there, again with no discomfort or deleterious effects.

It’s difficult to say how long I’ll live with this device and, of course, my aging heart. I’ve already outlived my father—who I was told I was “exactly like”—by 16 years. I have numerous comorbidities as well. The battery in my pacemaker, according to the Nurse Practitioner who runs the pacemaker clinic at Kaiser, has over 12 years of life remaining and it can be replaced if necessary. A review of the available information on the remaining lifespan for men like me range from 5 to 15 years or more, depending on numerous factors, including lifestyle. I have to balance my desire to enjoy the life I have left in a fashion that suits me, or live longer by changing my habits and desires. I’m working on that now. My outlook and philosophy are undergoing a transition and I’m not quite sure where I’ll end up, but I’m still here for now and I intend on living each day to the fullest.

Testing The Waters

I have been working (read “struggling”) on my memoirs/autobiography for longer than I care to think about. I’ve managed to write close to 90,000 words and am sure I need to write another 90,000 (at least) in order to feel I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. Some of what I’m including comes from blog posts I’ve authored over the past decade and a half. Now I’ve decided to take a slightly different tack and publish some of my work here in my blog, in the hope I can get some feedback—at least from my friends who sometimes read what I write here. What follows is the first draft of my Preface to what I’m tentatively entitling “A Stunning Display of Intelligence”, the meaning of which is contained therein. If you read this, and have a mind to, I would greatly appreciate your thoughts, suggestions, etc. Thank you.

I’ve not been one to toot my own horn, preferring to let my actions speak for themselves. This is, in part, because I suffer from impostor syndrome, or something similar to it. My particular iteration of this syndrome isn’t a cause of great anxiety. It’s more like I’ve always felt everyone knew everything I did and what I knew or was capable of wasn’t all that special. It’s only in the last decade I’ve come to understand how this affected me and began to throw off whatever constraints it placed on my progress and enjoyment of life.

It was the blog of an online friend, someone I have never met in person but, because of our mutual interest in the advent of what was called Web 2.0, as well as social media and its application to the enterprise, that brought me my first glimmer of a deeper understanding. He named his blog “The Obvious” and, when I asked him why that was so he told me it was because his impostor syndrome led him to believe the things he wrote about were “obvious” to others; hence the name.

This work of mine is my way of not necessarily showing off, or displaying my accomplishments, but of sharing my experiences, many of which for numerous reasons I have been reluctant to talk about at all with nearly anyone save for those who were with me when they happened and who helped me plan or plot to accomplish. Some of the things I’ve done, especially when I was young and impetuous, not to mention bullet-proof and invincible, were illegal. My virtue is never having been caught, not necessarily being a good citizen. Although, in my defense I will argue much of those activities might have been illegal, but they were hardly wrong. Enjoying the pleasures of Cannabis is one of them. I will discuss this in greater detail a bit later.

My life, while reasonably normal, has not been all that conventional. By that I mean I’ve done most of the things normal people do, I just haven’t done them in the same order others normally have. I have long suggested I’ve lived a great deal of my life in reverse and I believe I am accurately depicting how I’ve done it. For instance, although I did not attend undergraduate school, I was admitted to law school eight years after I graduated high school, graduating with a Juris Doctorate three years later. Many years after that experience (33 to be exact) I earned a Master’s Degree in Knowledge Management. It was shorty after my 62nd birthday. I have considered getting a Bachelor’s Degree just to complete the backward educational hat trick, but at this stage of my life it’s unlikely. I did some undergrad work at the University of Phoenix and Cal Lutheran when I was working on the Space Shuttle Maine Engine (SSME) program at Rocketdyne. I think I finished a semester at the University of Phoenix and a year or more of work in an adult evening degree program at Cal Lu, but it was difficult to reconcile taking classes designed primarily for 18 – 22 year olds still wet behind the ears. The knowledge I could have taught some of those classes was a bit aggravating too. I will discuss these efforts a little later.

I didn’t become a father until I was 55 years old, when my wife and I, after trying to get pregnant, traveled to the People’s Republic of China to adopt our oldest child. It was a two-year, difficult, and amazing adventure. A few years later, in what I’ve often thought of sarcastically as a stunning display of intelligence, we adopted another child from China. Hence the title of this memoir. Later on I will introduce you to my girls, Fooshie and Typhoon Girl.

A word of caution. As I am writing down my recollections I am also researching dates and locations to ensure my memories are as accurate as one can expect from a seventy-five year old man. I have never been one to exaggerate my experiences, but I know that time can play tricks on one’s memory. I am making every attempt to be accurate, but I realize a few of these memories may be slightly distorted. For instance, I know I was five years old when I had surgery to correct my clubbed left foot, but I’m pretty certain (based on my research of when he played for the Los Angeles Angels) I was five years old when I picked up a foul ball during batting practice and, at his request, returned it to Chuck Connors. I’m not sure I can reconcile being mobile enough to get that ball with having some fairly major surgery done to my foot and ankle. Nevertheless, I have managed to slog through what remains of my mind and am presenting what I remember as best I can.

It is also nigh on to impossible to refer to many of the organizations I worked for or the places I visited and which meant something to me and my development or experience back then, because some of these memories are from a long time ago. As an example, one of the companies I worked for and which played a bit of a role in making my visit to Cuba somewhat strange was purchased long ago and, in fact, was re-branded sometime after that purchase-and that was a long time ago.

A substantial portion of this memoir was written over the past 10 – 15 years and posted on one of the two blogs I’ve maintained since early 2006, when I published my first post at The Cranky Curmudgeon ( I posted there for a few years until 2014. I did not publish very often the last few years because I had started another blog with WordPress, which I call Systems Savvy ( My first publication there was at the beginning of 2008. I have since published there sporadically and continue to do so; currently a bit over 700 times, not including saved drafts. Some of those posts were simple, short, and sweet while others were somewhat lengthy and more complex and nuanced. Several of them recount experiences of mine, while other reflect on lessons I believe I’ve learned from work or life.

Long ago I came to the conclusion the only thing that mattered for me, in terms of what I accomplish in my life, was that I gained wisdom. When I first began to feel that way I was only in my thirties and I knew that you can’t just hang out a shingle and declare oneself a wise person. I also knew that wisdom comes with time and experience; some would say after a great deal of false starts and failures too. Whether or not I’ve reached that particular plateau will be for others to decide and I am hopeful you will find a nugget or two buried in my remembrances, especially those that are from the more seminal experiences of my now fairly long life.
I’ve struggled to find my voice for, well, pretty much forever and I’m not sure I’ve managed to do a good job with this memoir.

However, I don’t think it’s hyperbole to believe I can at times sense the hot breath of the grim reaper on my neck and I feel a strong need to get this done before it’s too late. As well, I want to leave some coherent (ha!) record of who—and why—I am for my daughters. They lost two fathers before they were old enough to understand what was happening to them and I want them to have something to hang on to after I’m gone. I am, for the most part, the only father they can remember.

For years I considered writing memoirs about certain parts of my life and experience; mostly my political and counter-culture activities and my becoming a first-time adoptive father so late in life. However, various circumstances militated against my doing so, not the least of which was my inability to just sit down and write, as well as organize my thoughts and memories. In this work I have decided to go through my life and get as much of it down as possible. As I began outlining and organizing my thoughts I found it increasingly easier to link various parts, the sum of which can be confusing when taken all at once.

I have therefore attempted to organize my thoughts in such a way the reader can get a sense of what I have learned from a particular part of my life without having to understand the entirety of it, the gestalt if you will. I think you will find it easy to skip over portions that aren’t terribly interesting to you and still get something of value. At least I hope that is the case. I know my life has been unconventional. Not all of it, but substantial chunks of time and experience. I’ve tried to convey what I’ve learned from those periods, as well as the more normal everyday experiences we all seem to go through. I hope you’ll find it of interest, if not enlightening.

In Memory of Laverne & Shirley

How many of my friends know what a schlemiel or a schlimazel is? These two words came up quite frequently in my youth. The simple explanation I received to help me understand the difference between the two is as follows (btw, mazel mean “luck” in Yiddish):

A schlemiel is a person who, while walking through a large, mostly empty dining room with a bowl of hot soup, nevertheless manages to spill the soup. A schlemazel is the person on whom the soup lands, perhaps the only one in the entire room.

Back to School (Not Really)

I’m in the library at Moorpark College after accompanying Alyssa while she drove to her Jazz Dance class, where I then took the car to a public parking lot and walked to the library. I’m now sitting and waiting for her class to be over at 10:50. We’ve been planning this for a while, but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it given my health concerns.

However, I did get a heart monitor yesterday and it’s important I conduct myself as normally as possible so we get plenty of data in order to more accurately assess what’s going on. The short walk here with about a 10-pound backpack (I brought my laptop so I could get some stuff done with a full-size keyboard) got my heart rate up to about 106, which seems kind of high. After finding a desk to set up at, it’s now down to 66 which, given that I’ve not been terribly active lately, seems a bit low. Part of me is wondering if my Fitbit tracker is on the fritz, as it’s given me some fairly strange readings lately.

At any rate, I’m going to keep on keepin’ on for the next six days, then remove the monitor and send it to the vendor who supplies it, then wait a few days to hear from my doctor. I’m also waiting to hear from Kaiser regarding an echo cardiogram, which has also been ordered. Overall, I’m feeling reasonably good. Time will tell.

Adulting Not Parenting

They say that getting old isn’t for the faint of heart. I tend to agree with that sentiment, but I’ve managed to add an entirely different dimension to the equation. I did’t become a parent until I was 55 years old. That’s when we adopted our oldest daughter from the People’s Republic of China. When I was 59 we did it again. Now I’m 75 and I still have a 19 year old living at home, as well as a 21 year old.

When my oldest graduated high school, I kind of panicked. I hadn’t been thinking much about what happens when the kids grow up and go out on their own. Everything I’d done for them was with that end result in mind, but I hadn’t given much though to how it would affect me. I took it hard. Even though she wasn’t leaving anytime soon, I went through a painful cycle of distress and remorse. I was certain I’d messed up somewhere along the way and it was too late to fix it. I spent an entire day crying on the shoulders of several friends, just to get it off my chest. I finally discovered that spending a little time talking to her, and being the recipient of her ‘tude was enough to set me straight and I was able to get over it.

Still, last night she went to house sit for some friends for the next 10 days and I already miss her. Even though she barely came out of her room and I could go a couple of days without seeing her, the knowledge she’s not here is somehow distressing. I think maybe it’s because I really want to spend some quality time with her, just talking about life and family, etc. Every since we adopted our second daughter, she needed so much attention I wasn’t able to give my oldest the kind of attention I had been giving her previously. Thankfully, it turns out she’s strong and independent – just like I had hoped.

I know I’ll get over this feeling. After all, I’ve been patiently waiting to get back to a little adulting after all this parenting. I am looking forward to both of them getting a bit older and more independent. That’s when I think the really good conversations will happen. I just hope I live long enough to see, and experience, it.

Sister Golden Hair Surprise

I got a few new articles of clothing from my family for Christmas. They’re currently the only ones I have that aren’t at least lightly covered with dog hair from Angel. Her golden fur stands out nicely against the darker colors I usually wear. These new things will soon be covered with reminders of my fur baby as well. I’ve accepted it as part of the natural order of things.

I’m Not a Chef, But …

My very first job, that is the first one I got paid for, was at a McDonald’s in Arleta, CA. I was sixteen years old and had just gotten my driver’s license. My first day I did nothing but make milkshakes. My second day I bagged french fries. Then they discovered I knew how to work the cash register and to make change. From then on I worked the window, taking and fulfilling orders. I had nightmares involving endless lines of people who ate every meal there (at least lunch and dinner; McDonald’s didn’t serve breakfast in 1963) every day. These dreams were based, in part, on the fact there were several customers who did eat there every day. It was a frightening thought.

My second job was as a bus boy at Pancake Heaven, which no longer exists but was just around the corner from the McDonald’s I cut my working teeth on. I eventually became a fry cook there for a while and learned how to make breakfasts, for the most part. At least, that’s all I can barely remember. I also worked at Mike’s Pizza on Van Nuys Blvd. for a while. The only thing I remember about that job was sneaking out a bottle of Chianti in a trash can filled with the sawdust I was responsible for changing out every few days so the floors were reasonably clean.

The Summer before I graduated High School, which was actually the Summer after I should have graduated High School, I worked as a “bus boy” at Pacific Ocean Park (POP). My job was to walk around the pier on which the park was built and scoop trash into one of those self-opening dust pans and empty it into one of the larger trash bins that were placed all over the “park”. It actually had nothing to do with food or food service, other than that most of the trash was created by people who had purchased something to eat and were too damned lazy to deposit the trash in a receptacle themselves.

I didn’t work in or around food service again until 1973, when I tended bar at the Ash Grove in Los Angeles, where I was raising money for my upcoming trip to Cuba with the 6th contingent of the Venceremos Brigade. I had studied Hapkido with Ed Pearl, the owner of the club. It was a favorite target for anti-Castro Cubans and was burned down for the third and final time shortly after I worked there. I don’t think we had a liquor license; only a beer and wine license, so tending bar wasn’t quite as intellectually challenging as it would have been had I been required to remember dozens of mixed drinks, but it was a busy venue and I enjoyed my time there.

Shortly after returning from Cuba, in my first year of law school, I secured a position as a “wiener clerk” at The Wiener Factory in Sherman Oaks, CA, where I served up the finest hot dogs, knackwurst, and polish sausage to ever cross a taste bud. Even though they closed on December 31, 2007 (15 years ago) it’s still talked about as the top example of how a hot dog should be presented to the discriminating public. I loved it there. PS – Click on the link and you might find my posthumous review of the place, which I posted almost 12 years ago.

I didn’t work in food service again until sometime in the mid-nineties. I had left my job at Rocketdyne to rejoin my brother in a family wholesale food/restaurant supply business our father had started when I was 13. After less than two years it wasn’t going well and I decided to leave and fend for myself. One of my customers was Les Sisters Southern Kitchen in Chatsworth, CA. The owner at the time, Kevin Huling, was working his butt off and wanted to be able to take a day off during the week. I offered to run the place for him on Wednesdays and, until I returned to Rocketdyne, I managed the restaurant once a week. My favorite day was when I had to wait on tables. I made quite a bit more money than I did from just managing the place (hint: tips!).

In addition to all these jobs, my father was working at the Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles when I was born. He worked at Faber’s Ham Shop, which was a stand in the market that sold lunch meats and fresh chickens. He liked to refer to himself as a butcher, but my birth certificate lists his occupation as “Food Clerk”. I remember my mother taking me shopping there when I was about five years old. We took Pacific Electric’s Red Car on the Red Line that stretched from San Fernando, running right through Panorama City, where we lived, to downtown L.A. My father put me in a far-too-large, white butcher’s coat, and put a Farmer John paper campaign hat on my head, stood me on a milk crate and had me selling lunch meat for an hour or so. I learned my first three words of Spanish behind that counter, which were “¿Que va llevar?” literally “what are you going to carry?”, but was more loosely translated as “what’ll you have?” or “what can I get for you?”

Later on, specifically right after I handed over every check I received for my Bar Mitzvah gift to my father so he could buy a truck, he went out on his own. He became the broken wienie king of Los Angeles, buying (essentially) mistakes from packing houses and selling them to his old boss, as well as to other small markets scattered throughout the greater Los Angeles area. Until his death in 1984, I spent virtually every school holiday being his “swamper” on his route or later on delivering and selling on my own as part of the business. Somewhere around 1994 I left my job at Rocketdyne to rejoin my brother in the family business, once again selling almost exclusively to restaurants.

My point is, I have no formal training in the culinary arts, but during a rather large portion of my life until I was around 50, I spent quite a bit of time working in jobs and being involved in businesses that involved food; at times merely delivering it and at other times preparing and serving it. I know my way around a kitchen and I know quite well how to operate a successful food business. It’s not easy. People can be real assholes when they’re hungry, and people who cook can be real prima donnas, so learning to satisfy your customers can be a painful experience. It is, however, quite rewarding when it works out. I think you have to genuinely like people in order to do it well.


I am absolutely blown away. In writing my autobiography, or a couple of memoirs, whatever-the-hell-it-is I’m doing, I’ve found it necessary to do some research to confirm things like locations, relationships, personal history, even a little genealogy.

I’ve never been big on family history, but I’ve been told or have heard things throughout my life that fill in a few blanks. For instance, as far as I know my paternal grandfather was an orphan from Poland who settled in (what I grew up knowing as) “The Ukraine.” His last name, as my father spelled it, was Wladofsky. My mother’s maiden name was Moldofsky and, since the suffix “sky” means “from”, I’m pretty sure that means her family was from Moldova, which borders Ukraine to the southwest. There is also a town in the far east of Poland, right on the border of Ukraine, called Wlodowa. It’s conceivable that’s where Wladowsky (Wladofsky, Wladovsky) comes from.

Regardless, as I’ve said I haven’t really been terribly interested in discovering much of this. However, I have on occasion attempted to search the database of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation to see if I could find anything. I’ve not been successful, until today.

The real irony here is that I haven’t found anything about my paternal grandparents or my maternal great grandparents (my maternal grandparents where born in the U.S.) but I finally found a listing of someone. It’s not an immigration record, though. It’s a record of my father returning to New York, via Dublin, Ireland from a Murmansk Run during WWII. He was born in Chicago, but quite high school to join the U.S. Navy and was deployed aboard the U.S.S. William H. Webb.

All these years I thought he was aboard a United States Navy vessel, but I know now he was part of the Navy referred to as the Navy Armed Guard. These were small detachments of sailors who manned the guns on merchant ships. I believe the William H. Webb was a merchant ship outfitted with guns that were manned by the 29 sailors aboard a vessel which also included 41 merchant seamen. My father was the lone radioman.

Here’s what is said about the Navy Armed Guard: “The U.S. Navy Armed Guard was a service branch of the United States Navy that was responsible for defending U.S. and Allied merchant ships from attack by enemy aircraft, submarines and surface ships during World War II. The men of the Armed Guard served primarily as gunners, signal men and radio operators on cargo ships, tankers, troop ships and other merchant vessels. Disbanded following the end of the war, the Armed Guard is today little known or remembered by the general public, or even within the Navy. But without the courage and sacrifice of the men of the Armed Guard, victory in World War II would have been much more difficult and taken much longer.”

He seldom talked about it, but when I was a child I learned early not to be near his arms when waking him up for dinner. He came out of sleep ready for action. I always “knew” the reason, but never felt it quite as clearly as I do now. I’m attaching a portion of the document that’s the very first thing I’ve ever encountered about his service, other than a certificate he received on February 23, 1944 upon their vessel crossing above the Arctic Circle which I’ve had since his death in 1984. I had to fight back tears. I’m still getting goose bumps.

I don’t expect to suddenly go off in a full-blown genealogical search for my roots, but I have found a few other threads I’d like to pull on. I must, however, ensure it all serves my greater purpose, which is finishing this book (whatever) of mine fairly soon. Certainly before the end of next year.

PS – His name before he and my mother changed it when they got married, was Isadore Edward Wladofsky and he was a Radioman 3rd Class aboard the William H. Webb, all of which is included in the full document of which I’m sharing only a part.

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