Friday, December 31, 2010

History Lesson, How it All Started Part 1... Day 22/30



As a boy, Bill loved to fish and wander into new territory but his favorite hangout was the Kern River, a few miles from his home in Bakersfield, California. He would hike to the river daily in summer, fish, turn over rocks and spend the entire day exploring. One day he saw a gentleman holding a bird which piqued his curiosity and he approached him to investigate. The man introduced himself as Dr. McClure, ornithologist. He explained to Bill that he studied birds, their habits, migrations and that he banded birds to find their life habits. He showed Bill how to band the bird and asked if he would like to help him. That began a life-long friendship between them and changed the direction of Bill's life.

After Bill had served four years in the Marine Corps, he registered at the local Junior College to learn architecture, as he had so much talent in drawing. Included in his classes was an art class. Daily he came home frustrated and finally angry beyond words. Telling me what happened that day in art class, he was red in the face and sputtering. The instructor, an older lady, had told him he needed to use his imagination. She had him stand at the front of the class, told him to shut his eyes, stand on his tip toes and smell an imaginary rose. Did that tough Marine do that? He did not! He stomped out and quit the class!

That led to him changing to Humboldt State College in Arcata, California, the northern most part of the state. We arrived there in January, in driving rain that did not stop for 42 days! But his Wildlife classes were exactly what his lifestyle was meant to include. He worked with many species of animals, birds, snakes, warm and cold-blooded living and dead things. He usually came home from class or field trips smelling to high heaven, but grinning from ear to ear. Summers he worked. Two years it was scut work at a State Park, one summer "planting" oysters in the bay (that meant standing on a barge shoveling oysters over the side all day long). But the best summer was to come - his dream...

5 comments:

kate said...

LOVE THIS MOM!!! I didn't know he'd studied architecture first; no wonder he was so supportive of me dreaming of becoming an architect.

It's soooo great to "hear" these stories for the first time.

Linguist Jake said...

Fantastic stuff. I always knew about Grampa, but never really knew much about Grampa. These pieces have helped with that. Thanks to all of you for contributing.

Jodi said...

Jake, then it's doing exactly what I hoped. There are so many wonderful stories about grampa that I knew would be lost forever if they weren't shared in writing. I'm enjoying it as much as anyone!

Jodi said...

Sue just called to tell me that this picture of dad looks just like Jake!

Dee said...

I'm so glad that you "kids" are learning some of the fun, good stuff about father and grandfather.
Kate, you were young enough that you were not aware of most of the happenings . Bill truly was a "character" .