It doesn’t need to be told. That would be me making too much of myself if I really believed that anyone had to hear me. The only reason for me to write is to express my feelings, sometimes to define the feelings that I want to feel. It is for me. If anyone else enjoys, I am thrilled. We are all on this wild, crazy ride together. Almost 8 billion of us now, nobody is really more special than anyone else. What, if anything, really matters? Let’s try to see. The following is to those met along the way… hopefully, a tribute to where you’ve lead me.
There are stories like mine, as if there is nothing new. Over the years I have seen resumes with certain job descriptions exactly like mine. After investigation, I found the person was working on an exact iteration of the same project. In a similar regard, there were two or three very closely related projects that I worked on for different companies, not just different organizations; but different branches of the military, as well. Not that I can talk freely about some things… there are tales to tell to establish my point of reference with regard to how I believe these things affected, and helped shape, our United States of America.
It’s not that these credentials are copied, either one from the other. It is just that they are common stories, and as time goes on, more repeated than copied. You don’t actually think that the government is run by people like me, do you? Those interns did a lot of work… but, they don’t run things either 🙂
I am from the American middle class, in a time when there was such a thing. The only time I ever saw my father’s income statement was while sneaking where I had no business being. It must have been 1964, I saw my father’s income was $16,000. That was a time when quitting high-school and getting a $100 a week job was common, not that it looked attractive to me. I knew people who did that.
Money always seems to set the stage… so, let’s look at some financial references before we get into the whole story… What is, or was, middle-class in America… probably different than life in middle-America.
The home where we, a family of five, lived from my birth until age two had cost $5000 when purchased in in 1946. Here is 2051 Brandywine Street then:
from the front taken sometime in the 60’s or 70’s, and around to the side showing the garage.
and today on Zillow, off-market: $587,811.
It even looks pretty damn comfortable… today…
It still has one bath, upstairs, and the garage was tiny back then; but, it was the only garage in the whole community that lined both sides of three streets. The model built by the builder, for the builder, was at the opposite end of the row. Btw, these were known as “row houses” which apparently are not the same as “town houses”. The elementary school where my brothers attended was just down the block, across a residential street, and around the corner on the left, (or down the driveway and across the street; but, that’s not what I have in pictures).
The house where I grew up in Rosslyn, Arlington, had cost $17,000 in 1950. Here is a view from across the front yard, fish pond on the left, and you can see the tail-end of my brother, Gary’s, 10′ hydroplane. We also had a 14′ Chris Craft, runabout which was docked at Columbia Island Marina (now Lady Bird Johnson Park) across from the River entrance to the Pentagon.
That house was on the leading edge of 17th street which became one-way, Clarendon Blvd, heading into Rosslyn in the ’90s. It was sold as part of a $5 million dollar land purchase for a high-rise project in 1974. There were some great times here, which continued for several years after my parents had retired to Florida. My brother lived there for at least eight more years before construction began.
Here is that corner, in July, 1985
Here is a picture more nearly completed; but, not finished
Our home would fit on the spot of the yet to come, circular driveway. I have not been back in years, except on Google Earth. I have spent time there and I don’t care for it much anymore. The woods where my friend, Roger Holt, and I built our forts and played our games is still there… about the only green left.
Between 1974 and 1985, the house on 17th street was a hotbed of activity. The neighborhood and the neighbors were changing, and I was working in the Pentagon for the second time in my career between 1982 and 1985. It was on a lunchtime jaunt that I arrived to see the bulldozers pushing in the walls of my boyhood home. It was later determined this step was pre-mature, as the final payments had not been made, so it was a bit ironic that I happened by to see my home pushed into a heap and scooped into waiting dump trucks.
My father worked for the federal government. The five families, from war-time rooming at the boarding house in DC to 1950, were brave new inhabitants living in northern Virginia with one family as far out as Great Falls. Our home was a sweet location, then and today, two-blocks from the Rosslyn Metro, and seven or eight blocks from the court house Metro stop. The tunnels beneath our home. My parents had retired by the time most of the blasting for the subway took place. They experienced a few though… and quickly made their plans for Florida.
Back to 1950 now. The new mortgage, plus the old mortgage on the first home, required something extra for my dad to afford and maintain. The house was big, so the two rooms and bath upstairs were rented to four girls. They were always recruited through government bulletin boards, constantly coming to Washington from middle America, you know, like, Iowa, or Kansas, to work for the federal government. Always between the ages of 18 and 22. It was hell growing up here. (j/k)
Most of my father’s career was with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The federal grade scale ran from GS-1 to 14, the GM-15 to 18. The scale exists today, perhaps with different meaning. Remembering how often my father brought home work, and the weekends he’d spend at the dining room table with his papers, I always respected him as being at the top of his heap, not stopped before the management grades. He would be the one that I would want to have crunching my numbers, preparing the facts. He was a GS-14.
The truth about who does what in a government office would astound you. My exposure to the office politics taught me how the work gets done in government. As a government sub-contractor I was immune to the direct hits; but, often the target for such infractions as taking more than my allowed square footage, or having my desk too close to the window, or, whatever… That old lady, retiring in six months, had even more power than the interns… or the GM in the next office.
Not sure today which parts of this I will write about. It depends on where this process takes me. There’s a lot to say about the politics and the methods of doing business. Who does what, when and why? We will have to circle back later.
One of the five families, referenced elsewhere, following, was that of Lauren and Dorothy (Dot) Karsner, with two children, a girl, Karen, and a boy, Phillip. They landed in McLean in a time when McLean was still country. Old Dominion Drive was first a train line, the scenic trip to Great Falls, VA. The train line bankrupted in 1936. Fourteen years later, communities were sprouting along the sides. It was still a commute from there to Washington. These were our pioneers, the first to trek to the suburbs of Washington in Northern Virginia. The men in these families laid a firm foundation for our government to grow and thrive. I want to know where are we today?
Lauren Karsner was Chief of the Card Division for the Library of Congress. My personal and professional exposure to him over the years will be referenced through this story. Only loosely connected with the Karsner’s today, I have to suspect they are like me, and eager to continue their father’s vision for our country.
As kids, we knew the roads before they were roads, and one of the funniest one’s became such a joke where the sign on the road that lead directly to the CIA was marked as the location of the “federal highway authority”. At one point they put in a pump station or something, and said THAT belonged to them. By then, there was little chance to deny it was the CIA. It was an international joke. The George Washington Memorial Parkway was initially built directly to the new CIA facility, prior to the beltway was which mostly still farmland. We would go horseback riding there and all through McLean, Vienna and Merrifield… yes, now we were pioneers.
So, where was I? My father…
He was a democrat; although, I have no idea as to his real adherence to party policy. My father never complained about any elected official to my knowledge. He was a Methodist; although, only attended services occasionally. He always brought work home and worked at the dining room table. When we went on vacations, he joined us on weekends, always working, always providing for his family.
My mother was a Baptist turned Methodist in marriage. She was also a Methodist minister’s secretary for 17 years with 14 of those years working for one man, Dr. James Roy Smith. Lots of pieces to add down this rabbit-hole. Dr. Smith came back into our lives in later years… and there is much to tell when it makes sense. Not now.
The big thing about religion was that once I made the decision to be baptized, and I joined a church that I attended on my own, I was never really questioned or restricted again. I was spoiled, and I was helped; but, I was also on my own.
There is a mark left by every individual. The impressions we have from our parents varies, and information is so readily available today, our kids have access we only got with effort… and some of us didn’t put in the effort at times.
My father left his mark, and that is a component of this story. This story represents what he forged for me, and what my generation has done with it. I have been thinking about our middle-class allegiances, and exploring some of the basis for my beliefs. My parents brought two boys into the world during WWII, 1942 and 1944. I came along four years later. Prior to the war, my parents had boarded with four other couples in Washington DC. These five families remained connected and bonded for sixty years. Siblings are loosely to non-connected today.
A. Everette MacIntyre, a republican, to my knowledge, and his wife, Rita were two of my families closest friends. Everette, Mac, to me, or sir, with most respect, Everette was, in my loose interpretation of his position “chief justice of the federal trade commission”. In actuality, in his most influential position, his title was “chief of the commission’s antitrust trials division.”
His story is amazing, and I am reviewing what I can learn about him today. From first-hand experience, I know that he “never financed anything in his life”, perhaps slightly exaggerated; but, not by much. Mr. chief justice was pro small business, and successful at that, too.
I am going to link to some of his documents which still appear in legal libraries today, and review them to see how well we’ve done so far. Mac was a factor to be reckoned with in the days when Route 66 was trying to push through Arlington. That was about the only thing I ever heard “we” disagreed on. From the top of the heap, here are two articles he authored in the early ’70s,
I hope that Phillip Karsner, a lawyer today, gets a chance to see these articles written by one of his fathers’ peers. I absolutely hated history in high school and now, well, it’s all history. Or future, of course, and that is where we’re going… back to the story….
Early in one of my careers, that of an automotive parts manager, a situation arose where stolen, wrecked and flood-washed cars, parts and titles were changing hands… through me. A special investigation anonymously crushed the ring and left me unidentified… until this day. Thank you sir.
But wait, there’s more! The five families story aside, an important piece in explaining; but, not now. Somewhere else I’ve told the story about the Iwo Jima monument, and pictures of my brothers in the hats on the ground and all. The rest of the landscape there was different, too. The pine trees behind it, where the Clinton’s supposedly had something to do with the death of an old associate, did not exist. The Netherlands Bell Carillon wasn’t there, either.
It was before Vietnam, so the Arlington Cemetery wasn’t so full. Fort Myer was still divided into north and south posts. South post is all cemetery now. But, then, there was this beautiful view of Washington from the hills above.
Our very good family friends were the Kaul’s, Ralph and Betsy, and their two children, James and Judith. The Kaul’s were friends of the MacIntyres, too. Ralph Kaul was an architect who had made his money building strip malls. He ran for Congress against Joel Broyhill, Funny, Broyhill’s Wikipedia page does not even mention 1960… the year that JFK promoted Ralph Kaul over Broyhill. We lost.
Let me update you with what has NOT been said in either Wiki page. Joel Broyhill personally and publically punished and humiliated Ralph Kaul by having that bell tower intentionally and obstructively placed where it sits today… in direct line of an otherwise flawless view of the Washington landscape. That view was as magnificent as one from Lee Manson and the current Kennedy graveside. The name Broyhill will always be associated in my mind with disgrace and disrespect. I saw no honor in him.
Ralph Kaul was my ticket to John F. Kennedy’s inauguration. He arranged for me to be in charge of clearing the snow from two rows of seats on Constitution Avenue in Washington. My hat is forever off to Ralph Kaul. Defeat with dignity. It didn’t slow him for long. His family and charitable foundation survives today… his memory and love, in our hearts.
I lost my fondness for politics early, and did not regain the slightest interest until the late 80s, where I stumped for Audrey Moore, a democrat in Fairfax County. Another story in itself, suffice to say today, it happened.
When Kennedy was assassinated it was truly one of the saddest days of my life; but, not nearly as much for his death than for the cancelled date with Paula Coleman. Paula was the pretty, little, blonde girl from England… I’d been chasing for months. She’d known the Beatles before they were… she’d seen them at “The Cave”, and her British accent was so new to this country, to me… a date cancelled, never to happen again 🙁 Damn you JFK, what I’ve sacrificed. (just kidding)
There are lots of stories going on here, and I understand the writer who often counts her success for the day in words written… edited, re-edited, shaped or deleted. It has to seem like rambling until, or unless, it is finished. I apologize then for publishing. It is a work in progress. There has been an organization for doing business that has been in my mind forever. It is time to relate it or forget it. My various Meetup groups are an avenue I’ve used to develop it. It’s time to connect the dots. My family will argue it does not pay. I argue, it’s been part of the cost.
My father was a “financial analyst”. I would dare say with a higher degree of weight than many purported today. He was bound by federal law not to use insider information, we were all obligated to hold any stock in our names for at least a year. There were no financial “funny games” in our family. Okay, there were a few. I learned early that monthly rent was twelve months a year; but, paying weekly was like paying thirteen months. Math isn’t a funny game though.
Later, I will try again to put this all together… there are lots of related stories, and stories you will be surprised to hear. The nature of my career has always been defined to be short to medium sprints, usually for different employers. Today, I hear my children thought I never worked, then after divorce, of course, I was a bum 🙂
I am analyzing the impact of my career, and looking for that next great idea. You know, the thing that does not violate any of my rules… whatever my rules may be, and allows me to finish my plan.
My father’s entire career was the federal government. We disagreed on social security numbers. He wanted them assigned at birth. I wanted them assigned when needed to report taxes and accumulate benefits. <stories here> He once asked me what computers could do for him? My response was probably nothing. <more here>
43 years, one employer. Me? A new job every few months; but, that was what I was told it was going to be. In 1968, the recruiter from Electronic Computer Programmer’s Institute (ECPI) sat in our living room and described the future as work when you want to, dress how you want to, frequently have new projects…. sure sounded like my dream then. It took years for the technology to catch up to the point where working remote and in the cloud could actually be… It’s here today though. I digress.
My first Pentagon assignment began in 1980. I was a programmer/analyst, database administrator, and held my first team technical lead position… with a team of two. The office in the Pentagon was just inside the same door my brothers had ridden their bicycles through in earlier years… probably around 1956 or 1957. By 1980, those doors had a guard since two toilets had been “blown off the wall” inside that door. Now, I know from my own, personal experience, that it doesn’t take much to blow a commode. This might have been a joke as much as a terrorist attack; but, it happened, and now, security was increased. You could still flash a driver’s license, or just about anything, if you followed a woman in a skirt through the door. But, it was security. Heaven forbid that guns would be used to stop you then… they were not exactly what you would call sharp-shooters, those guards, no. They were not!
Unbelievably, here was my first job in the Pentagon, and I was assigned a window office… well, I had other window offices in the Pentagon, later. This was the best. One on the top floor, on one of the inner-rings, I could see down. In another office, the door across from mine was dirt… the underpinnings of the Pentagon. Not so surprising, since the same Metro subway tunnels going under our home were also going under the Pentagon. But, back to the first office. A window on the outer ring, facing in the direction of the helipad, on the ground floor, with a short-building blocking the last 20 feet of a landing helicopter. I could hear the engines wind down, then in 10 seconds, people would round the building and enter the corridor door, four windows away. I was the “first alert” on incoming…. sort of.
If I were like my father, Mr. Stability, one-job career, I may have been there… on that day: 9/11
Here is a photo marked with my office window with the helicopter pad and Pentagon entrance to the left… The building which had blocked my view years ago was not destroyed in the attack. It appears to be more under new construction… regardless, it’s not there.
The window was deep with a two foot recess. I sat in my window for days on end… watching, planning, plotting… on jobs to be done. Thinking, always thinking….
The thinking part is an important point… One of my first managers in this building told me, “now David, I realize you can finished anything I ask you to do in two hours. For this next assignment, I want you to sit and think about it for two weeks before you pick up a pencil.” This is an age where computer time was in a SCIF located behind yet another guard desk. Pencil and paper… think… plan… execute.
Today, a new day, the music in the background is Imagine, covered by Perfect Circle, as I am thinking about things like Woodstock, The Beatles, my almost association with John Lennon, and all of the very important people I’ve met. What remains after they are gone? Some good. Some devastation, too. Stories I want to record… my view on the time that was my life on earth.
Jefferson D’Arcy may have been able to pull strings. I had no such connections; although, some may be implied through proximity. There is no past life as a spy or CIA operative in me; but, I was present in our federal government at a time when we were much younger. I had some interesting stints, with offices in the Pentagon many times, as well as elsewhere around Washington.
The stories. I hope I get them organized finally. Very little of my life has been secret; but, much of it has been concealed. I want to define those areas, and reveal as much as possible without inflicting someone’s wrath. Stay tuned!
I am ashamed of America and the Republican Party for nominating Donald Trump as their candidate for the Presidency. The hate and bigotry he shows for all who are not him is unacceptable. Social media is funny stuff. He’s all show and no go! Surely, America will see and not allow him the office.
God Bless America. God SAVE America. America is still great!
There will be more…. David