Bisonalities Again


A quarterly Newsletter dedicated to the Alumni of Waterford and Fort LeBoeuf High Schools
October 2012------------------------------------------ Fall Issue ------------------------ Volume 14 - Number 1
     Cat's Corner
     Everything's changed. Nothing has changed.
     Crash Landing on Iwo Jima

Welcome to the Bisonalities, Again, a newsletter dedicated to the alumni (students, teachers, and administrators) of Waterford and Fort LeBoeuf High Schools. This newsletter will be issued quarterly. New issues will be posted for viewing on the Web site on, or about January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1.

The Bisonalities, Again Web site may be viewed by going to:

The success of this newsletter will depend on you. I need contributors. Do you have an interesting article, a nostalgia item, a real life story, or a picture you would like to share with other alumni? Do you have a snail-mail or an e-mail address of one of your former classmates? If you do, please send it to me at the following e-mail address:
or at my snail-mail address:
Robert J. Catlin, Sr.
2670 Dakota Street
Bryans Road, MD 20616-3062
Tel: (301) 535-9263
Fax: (301) 375-9250

Please, NO handwritten submissions.

The Bisonalities, Again Newsletter is available to any and all alumni, teachers, and administrators of Waterford or Fort LeBoeuf High Schools on the Web site, free.

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Bob Catlin - Class of 1956

Cat's Corner

It has been a rough quarter. Since returning from "Snow Birding" in Florida Nancy has had a rough go of it. First, even though we had the flu shot, we both came down with the flu. Then on Father's Day Nancy, while we were on a picnic stepped in a hole and fell on her right side and jammed a large metal rod into her right arm that tore a large, deep patch of skin off her right forearm. She ended up in the Washington Hospital Center for ten days while they were waiting for her blood level to become normal (She takes medication to thin her blood because she had Afib at the time.) After they got her level back to normal they did surgery on her arm to clean up the wound. Luckily there was no damage to her tendons or ligaments. The damage was all flesh and muscle. They were going to do a skin graft, but the wound was so deep that they felt they had to wait for the muscle to rebuild before they closed the wound. They applied a wound vacuum sent her home to recover.

On Saturday, July 7, two days before her scheduled skin graft surgery, she passed out at home and was rushed to the hospital by ambulance. After five more days in the Washington Hospital Center, where they shocked her heart back into normal rhythm, they sent her home again to allow the wound to heal.

On Friday, July 27, she returned to the hospital and had the wound vac removed. They put a wet/dry bandage on her arm and told her to come back in three weeks.

On September 4 she was released by both the cardiologist and the surgeon.

The FLBHS class of 1956 had their 56th reunion at the Golden Corral on Upper Peach on July 19. We had a great turnout and a very enjoyable time. We are going to celebrate our graduation yearly now instead of every five years.

The next day I had the honor of having breakfast at Jake's on the Park with Dr. Stubbe and Art Steeves. During breakfast Dr. Stubbe offered me a story of an experience he had during World War II when he crash landed in an airplane on Iwo Jima.

Dr. Stubbe wrote the story in response to a friends request for information.

As a background to the story the friends request is repeated here:

Hi Earl:

It was nice to see you again at the reunion over Memorial Day. We talked briefly near the end of it about the B-29 food mission to Okinawa when your plane ran into trouble and ended up crash landing on Iwo. As I recall you had a good bit of information on it you were going to send to me since I was one of the pilots sent to Iwo two months later to fly that plane back to Guam. As I indicated, we tried for four days to get it going but each time there was more wrong that had to be fixed. On the fifth day it looked like we could get it going, however, on takeoff the #3 engine caught fire. We whipped that thing around and landed it as quick as we could. After that we told them we were going back by ATC and would not fly that plane anymore. It was a mess inside --- that's for sure. Sea marker dye all over, bent pipes everywhere, etc. I never heard any more about that plane and don't know whatever happened to it. Thanks for any information you can send me on that mission and what happened to all of you.

Best regards,

Byron Kinney

The nostalgia article published in this issue was written by Joe Leech, FLBHS Class of 1956 and a frequent contributor to the Newsletter.

The one-line "universal laws" between stories were received from Fred Bailey, FLBHS Class of 1956.

Law of Mechanical Repair - After your hands become coated with grease, your nose
will begin to itch and you'll have to pee.
Sandra Wrona Skiff WHS 1954
Louise Owens Chase WHS 1934
Thelma Carter Taylor WHS 1939
Dr. Marie Smith FLBHS Teacher
James Diluzio FLBHS 1979
Gary Shaffer FLBHS 1971
David Powell FLBHS 1969
Law of Random Numbers - If you dial a wrong number, you never get a busy signal and someone always answers.
Waterford, PA … June 2012 ... or is it July? I think July.

Everything's changed. Nothing has changed.

By Joe Leech - Bisonalities Editor, 1956

I was sitting on a bench on the Gazebo side of the park, basking in a warm sunny day, somewhere around 2 p.m., looking south on Main Street. The street was closed off. There was a lot of activity. Food vendors in the park, and the merchants had stands outside. The juke box over at the Waterford hotel was playing some tune I didn't recognize. I wonder if they still call them “juke boxes” and as I write this, I think of the musings of Andy Rooney. Only I'm not as grouchy.

I was among hundreds of people, but I was alone. Didn't recognize a soul, and wondered where I might find a friendly and familiar face; probably no where. I got to thinking, doesn't Phyllis (Doolittle) still live in Waterford? I think she does, but first, I have no clue as to where, and secondly if I just showed up and she was home, she'd probably not recognize me anyway. Hell, hardly anyone recognizes anyone any more.

Is there that much change, or is it our memories?

The last couple years, Steve Graham has hosted a little shindig called “Gathering of the Herd” at his place down in Florida. I was there last February. No name tags. Too bad, hardly recognized anyone. Fred Bailie was there. How could anyone forget Fred? First I'd seen him since graduation! Lots of others and after a few minutes, I did start to put names and faces together. Maybe if Al Hazen was around, I'd recognize him. Seems he never changed. Hadn't seen Bill Canfield since a reunion at the Legion a few years ago. Would not have recognized him either and we were best buddies at the time and fellow football players.

Decided to stretch my legs and walk down toward town. Wanted to see what the Sugar Bowl or Herb and Helen's looked like now. Funny thing is, for about 10 years or so at least after graduation you could mention “The Sugar Bowl” and everyone knew what you were talking about. No more. Then Mom and Herb renamed it after remodeling to “Herb and Helen's”. Didn't quite have the same effect. Sounded as much like a bar as an ice cream/sandwich place and when you think about it, really the fore runners to any of the convenience stores.

Got up off my bench, and surprisingly, no aches or pains. First place on the left … still a drug store, but some different name than Heard's. Mel has been gone a while. Funny how back, then even in the drug store, he could get away with having that cigar in his mouth. Usually not lit, but not always. Now the celebrity with the cigar is Rush Limbaugh, but he had not been born yet back then.

Funny thing, the next place had a mall like entrance … and TWO escalators; One on the right going up, the other on the left coming down. I thought “Holy Cow, nothing is that tall or high in Waterford to needing an escalator!” What could this be … and I stepped off the sidewalk, out to the street to look up. The old storefront had been changed ... this is where Browns 5 and 10 was … and now there was a three story building here and it looked like all offices. Waterford ? ? ? ? Hell, nowhere near the personality of Browns! I used to go to Browns about once a week with maybe some spare change I earned. This was back around sixth grade. I wanted to see what new toys they got in. Toys were near the back on the right and I collected little Tootsie Toy cars. It was fun.

I kept on going down the right side of the street. Noise was still over at the Hotel. They were having a good time and outside seating was full. But on our side, I didn't recognize anything; now mainly boutiques, specialty stores and a whole lot of antique places. Of course what used to take seemed like half the block was Doolittle's supermarket. It was humongous at the time. Before Herb and Helen's my folks had a grocery store. One of the first chains, “Red and White,” and it was about half the size. You didn't have credit cards back in our days when we were living in Waterford, but you could run a tab there at Doolittle's. Course it never got very big by today's standards … But with milk like 20 cents a gallon (Skat gas was a quarter a gallon and if you filled up you got a glass or an ashtray or something.). How could you run a tab? But if you earned $10 or $12,000 in a year then, you were in “the big time” or at least had enough to be comfortable.

Kept on walking … I knew the John Deere place had moved. Down to the “wye”, so I didn't expect to see it, but Chuck's barbershop used to be a regular place. I think it cost a quarter for a hair cut. You could see him or Big Mike next to Curly's. I liked Chucks, but he wasn't nearly the story teller.

The rest of the block ... Pretty much the same as I recalled ... But all new faces. Oh yes, came to our old place. It's some Italian restaurant. I understand it has been for a few years now.

Wanted to see if the Eagle Hotel was still there or if the museum was busy this festive weekend, whatever this “weekend” was. Yeah, the hotel was still the same. George Washington would even remember it, except seems like they were now serving expensive food with names I didn't recognize.

Turned around and crossed the street. Everything has changed. Of course the trees got cut down somewhere around the late 50s … make more room for parking. People still came to town to shop. No malls, no one ever heard of Walmart. But times changed, Waterford changed. Trees got planted again and it was nice.

If you wanted to get a new Chevy you didn't have Ozzie's place, he'd been moved since somewhere around 58.

So I headed back to my bench. Thought about stopping at the Waterford Hotel for a cold one; see if I might find ANY familiar face.

But I didn't ... guess I'm one of those “old timers” now. Who'd ever thought it ... walking around at age 70+ in my home town. Hell, 70 something's were REALLY old timers. Come to think of it, even at 50. Thing is, I don't hardly identify with that strange number at all. I'm a stranger in the world, and getting pretty uncomfortable with the feeling ... Then I woke up.

I dream a lot and have many adventures in those dreams. Some I can't tell ANY one about; Some times I'll laugh out loud and wake Ruth Ann up. She says it's better than hearing me snore! Funny thing about older guys, more snoring, and sometimes we grow more hair from our ears and eyebrows than on top of our head where it's supposed to be!

About time passing … that's a strange phenomenon, too. At first it passes so slowly. The slowest year: From age 15 waiting to 16 to be able to drive. Anyone else remember our first “high school” assembly where we were addressed by Mr. Dingle? The “assembly” was in the gym and we were on the bleachers on the cafeteria side. No such luxury as an auditorium back then. He told us of the great years ahead, to enjoy them, we'd be back not long to celebrate our kids hearing the same type message. Who identified with having kids when we were only 14 or so ourselves and now we celebrate grandkids and in a few cases, great grandkids. Time now passes with light speed!

And how do we use it? Seems like weeks are filled any more with appointments to maintain health, and with so many specialists! Heart doctor this week; foot doctor next; internist next, and don't forget once a year or so that guy with those crazy tube cameras that wants to look inside us! What happened to conversation about sports, the opposite sex, and what you did (or didn't do, or maybe were supposed to do) with them???? And your best friend… The stories THEY had to tell, but fortunately or otherwise, never could prove! That's education!

And in the story and education genre of stories… how much could Jake Russell do today in the name of teaching? Or would Carnahan? I learned my best math from him on his time, at lunch time, with things drawn out on a paper napkin at Herb and Helen's! Carm Bonito not only taught us health and how to be good athletes… but for some of us, how to shoot a gun and go hunting! Mrs. Davis and others did so much good and teaching outside the classroom. Everything's changed… but there are still some great teachers and stories in Waterford. Nothing's changed except the surroundings, the technology.

Some of us were lucky enough to have a TV, black and white, channel 11 or 12; Texaco, Ed Sullivan, Uncle Milty, and no rating system. There was no need. Books? Rated? Peyton Place? We didn't need a book. We just had to hear what went on at LeBoeuf Gardens … Or was it someplace else? Everything's changed … but nothing has changed either.

Trees are gone from Main Street. That was wake up time.

Well, I woke up this morning. Something said, “Joe, ya gotta share this”. I did. Hope it brought some good memories back; hope it made a couple of you laugh.

Now it's your turn in the next issue. Write it down before you forget how! Plain old typewriter or hand writing and snail mail to “Cat” works if you don't know what a word processor is or have one. You do remember how to write, don't you?

Nothing's changed… Everything's changed.

What's changed for you? What stayed the same? Happy Memories everyone!!!

Law of Probability - The probability of being watched is directly proportional to the stupidity of your act.
Crash Landing on Iwo Jima
By Earl C. Stubbe

This is a story of a B-29 from the 315th Bomb Wing sent to Okinawa with supplies to support an island ravaged by Typhoon Louise on October 9, 1945. The 315th was based on Guam and one of the crews designated to ferry supplies was commanded by Lt. Don Ethier. This mission occurred after the end of World War II, and personnel were being deployed back home based upon a point system. The Radar Observer from the Ethier crew had left for home and I, Lt. Earl Stubbe, was assigned to fill this vacancy for the upcoming trip to Okinawa. The following account is told as accurately as I recall it 67 years later.

The trip to Okinawa was uneventful. We delivered our load and started back the next morning with an additional passenger, a GI hitching a ride to Guam. Things went fine for the first couple hours. We were flying at 11,000 feet between two layers of stratus clouds. The distance between the two layers kept decreasing until we were enveloped by the cloud. Don sensed that there might be some rough going and suggested that we all fasten our seat belts. Then it struck, in what seemed a couple seconds we were at 18,000 feet. Then a down draft caused everything that was not secured, including the passenger, to go to the ceiling. I remember the fire axe which had broken loose from its mooring went by me each time we changed direction. The pilots reported that air speeds during downward segments exceeded 600 mph. We had another series of ups and downs until the storm finally spit us out at about 1500 feet altitude.

As we emerged from the storm, the plane appeared to be flying normally. However, when the scanners reported that the left aileron was missing completely and that the right aileron was mangled, we became aware that our problems were not over. Our passenger had crashed through the ¾ inch plywood cover over the unused gun turret well and was obviously severely injured. We pulled out of the well and tried to make him comfortable. The cabin resembled the neighborhood junk yard, and everything was covered with sea marker dye from the broken canisters.

After consulting with the officers in charge at Iwo Jima and at Guam, it was decided that we head for Iwo Jima. Iwo was closer and the approach to Iwo was pretty much straight in while Guam would require a 90 degree left turn, and the Guam runway ended at the brink of a 500 foot cliff. Since the plane was stable as it emerged from the storm, we were cautioned to not change anything unless it was absolutely necessary. We discussed the option of riding it on in or bailing out. The option to bail out was rejected primarily because of our injured passenger who was in no condition to put on a chute much less to be able to use it.

A Navy PBY was in the area, and they agreed to accompany us in case they could be of assistance. The problem was that our airspeed was 220 mph, they couldn't keep up and we didn't dare to slow down.

Our Eagle radar worked fine. We were able to pick up Iwo long before it was possible to see it, giving the pilots ample time to get lined up with the runway. The radar also gave us accurate distance and altitude information. The plan was, as I understood it, to come in low, get on the runway and hopefully stop before running out of runway. The first test was, however, to get the landing gear down without disturbing the planes stability. The gear came down with no problem.

The landing came off without a hitch. The plane touched down at 220 mph, more than double the normal B-29 landing speed. Brakes were applied causing all four of the main gear tires to slide for nearly two miles. As a result, all four were flat and had holes that you could sick your fist through. I talked with one of the firemen who followed us down the runway and he said that the smoke from the burning rubber obscured all except the wing tips of the plane. When we neared the end of the runway the pilots released the right-hand brakes and we did a little counter-clockwise ground loop, but didn't go off the end. The guys in the rear of the plane had trouble getting the hatch open so they could get out of the plane. Things were sprung so badly that they had to use a fire axe in order to open the door.

We were all covered with sea marker dye. One of the first priorities was to get a shower, wash it off, and get some clean clothes. This helped. However, our bath water ran green for several days. The next priority was to find the chapel and give thanks for getting all of us through that ordeal safely. I'm not sure what the odds are for a plane subject to that kind of abuse to be able to fly for several hours and land safely. Maybe it's just as well. I don't know.

The photos were taken with a cheap Kodak camera so the quality is not too wonderful.

after the crash

AFTER THE CRASH: Top row L-R Don Ethier, Dan Basaric, Walter McKelvie, Robert Bennett, Earl Stubbe
and I think the one at bottom-right is Max Rynearson. This was not my regular crew and I can't identify any of the others.

typhoon damage

TYPHOON DAMAGE: Doesn't need any explanation.

after the crash

FOUR FLATS: This was an attempt to show the hole in the tires resulting from them sliding over a mile.

The last person from the group that I have talked to is Max Rynearson. He was the tail gunner on the crew and attended the Wichita reunion of the 315th BW. I haven't seen Max since and don't know if he is still alive. He is/was an attorney in Indianapolis.

Law of the Theater & Hockey Arena - At any event, the people whose seats are furthest from the aisle,
always arrive last They are the ones who will leave their seats several times
to go for food, beer, or the toilet and who leave early before the end of the performance
or the game is over. The folks in the aisle seats come early, never move once,
have long gangly legs or big bellies and stay to the bitter end of the performance.
The aisle people also are very surly folk.
See you all next issue!

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