Marvin T. Paulson
D. C., “here we come!” 3042 miles. We made a comparatively
leisurely trip this time with stops at Medelia at my brother’s
and at Shannon, Illinois with Muriel’s mother. In all,
it took us 14 days.
much is said about the difficulty in finding housing in Washington
that we took a temporary apartment in Alexandria to look around.
Our good friends, Ivan and Lucy Smith, gave us good guidance
and suggestions on where to locate. Ivan was the computer on
my triangulation party for two years until he landed a position
with the C&GS in Washington. We later settled for a new
one-bedroom apartment across the street from the Smiths in Shirlington,
a suburb of Arlington.
My first impression of Washington was the terrific tie-ups in
traffic for going to work and, even more, on the homeward trek.
There were only two bridges across the Potomac River at that
time - one a lift-bridge for river traffic. What took 15 to
20 minutes on a clear “sailing” day would take at
least an hour to an hour and a half on the average for going
home traffic. Winter problems would add to the congestion.
Coast and Geodetic Survey was a bureau of the Department of
Commerce that occupied three floors on the east side of the
Commerce building. My office was on the ground floor, southeast
side, and closest to the Washington Monument such that I could
keep an eye on it from my desk. I felt privileged.
assignment was “Special Assistant to the Director, Office
of Cartography” with specific duty to prepare and monitor
the budget and expenditures for the Director. The office had
four Divisions: Nautical Charts, Aeronautical Charts, Reproduction
and Distribution. The Nautical and Aeronautical Divisions compiled
the drawings of charts from raw field survey data. The Reproduction
Division photocopied the drawings and printed the final charts.
The Distribution Division maintained an automatic mailing list
of subscribers and commercial agents and distributed the printed
1960, there were over 42,000,000 charts issued, a large percentage
of which were reproduced on a tight publication schedule. Certain
charts, especially aeronautical, become obsolete at periodic
intervals; others become obsolete only by printing of new editions.
Certain chart sales are seasonal in nature; others are issued
on a regular subscription basis. Some charts are corrected to
date of issue; others can be issued directly “off-the-shelf.”
The format of various aeronautical charts series is constantly
being revised to meet changing requirements and regulations,
whereas most nautical charts are comparably stable.
to schedule is an essential element in production of charts.
A disruption in any segment may have a domino effect on the
entire chain of events. As a means to become knowledgeable and
familiar with the entire process, snafus in the process would
be assigned to me for investigation and solution. It was amazing
how smooth the production functioned most of the time; and yet,
disruption of the smallest link could be so catastrophic in
the overall publication effort. A most interesting assignment....
Sunday, I attended church services alone and on the way home
stopped at a promotional open house at a new development. I
was very impressed with the house, the neighborhood and the
fact that the contractor had saved every tree that he could
during construction. I drove home full of enthusiasm, convinced
Muriel to go take a look, drove back, she was impressed, we
discussed details and at 3 P. M. signed for our first house.
As we were leaving, another couple came in and announced “We’ll
take it.” “Sorry, “ was the answer - “It
is sold.” They later became our neighbor up the street.
the day before we were scheduled to move into our new home,
I was handed “emergency orders” to replace the Executive
Officer on the HYDROGRAPHER who had been hospitalized. What
a blow - no amount of argument could sway the powers that be.
Only 10 days was the reply - the ship is on a very sensitive
mission testing for nuclear contamination from a dump site in
Sunday, I departed Washington. On Monday, Muriel moved into
our first home all by herself. Professional movers did the heavy
work and Ivan and Lucy Lee gave moral support and assistance;
but the fact remains, Muriel moved in alone. I returned in 10
days as promised, but also got orders for extension of ship
duty for another 10-day trip. Two days leave was authorized
for me to fly home from Boston and return. I don’t think
that I have to explain to any of you all the trials and tribulations
that Muriel had to go through in getting settled, but when I
returned the second time, our home was well established and
the most beautiful sight I could have imagined. Those last two
weeks had been the longest for both of us but we survived and
have chalked it up to just another experience in a long list.
were so happy with our new home and neighborhood and every place
that we have lived since that time was compared to “the
way it was.” We were fortunate to live there for nearly
four years -- Muriel did anyway, and me too of course, but near
the end of two years as “Special Assistant,” I had
a 5-month detail to the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk
with only week-end commutes home.... As it turned out, three
other officers at the College also lived on our side of town,
so we had a car pool. Poor Muriel, she had no transportation
during my time to drive. Thank goodness for considerate friends.
graduating from Staff college, I was given a very choice assignment
as Chief of the Nautical Chart Division. It was choice because
chart production was undergoing an evolution of sorts toward
automation. The small craft chart publication was in its infancy
and became my concentrated promotional activity. In doing this,
I promoted Cooperative Charting with the U. S. Power Squadron
and the Coast Guard Auxiliary which I believe was my accomplishment
of record. Under this program they would provide reliable reporting
of corrections or uncharted dangers in exchange for charts and
other publications for their education programs. I am kind of
proud to say that it is a viable program today - 40 years later.
good assignments must come to an end and it was back to sea
duty for me and a lonely vigil for Muriel during my absence.
To commute to and from Norfolk was an option that we considered
but opted for selling the house and moving to Norfolk. We had
no assurance that another Washington assignment would be in
signed a lease in a new apartment development in Norfolk, installed
new carpet and moved in. In the morning, we woke up to a soaking
wet carpet and a non-functioning wall heater. Luckily, we were
relieved from our lease and reimbursed for the damaged carpet.
We were aware of another available apartment, though expensive,
but we took it anyway. As it turned out, our turmoil was a blessing
in disguise as we became close friends with our neighbors in
the apartment above us. Even in retirement in Las Vegas our
friendship continued with several visits and stopovers on their
many travels visiting family in California.
ship assignment began as Executive Officer on the C&GS Ship
EXPLORER -OSS28 - based in Norfolk but detailed to various projects
throughout the Atlantic Ocean. Extended absence from homeport
was the norm. I did finally ascend to Commanding Officer at
a later time....
first project for the EXPLORER was one that I have expounded
on to all our visitors and friends so bear with me as I relate
our experiences again. Our survey instructions were to find
a transatlantic route for laying a telephone “hot line”
from New Jersey to France. Within a certain corridor, we were
to find a route that was not over 11 % grade and to survey in
detail any area that exceeded that limit. It seems that, in
laying cable, things go along smoothly on level ground but on
steep slopes the complications become monstrous. I almost wrote
mountainous which would have been right too.. The steeper the
slope, the more cable must be let out to avoid fraying and damage
to the cable. Excessive spans between peaks adds to the dilemma.
Many of you have seen the model I made depicting one such area
about 400 miles north of the Azores. This volcanic area would
cause innumerable problems for the cable layers and also for
anyone assigned to maintain the line.... We made Brest our “Port
of Call” after we finished the line on the French coast....
sailing trip home was to run a line parallel to our original
route and develop the volcanic area noted on the first line.
That meant two more stops in the Azores. We received a first-class
welcome this time with keys to the city of Ponta Delgada and
a barbecue for the officers at the U. S. Embassy. They arranged
tours of the island and trips to the ceramic factories.... We
departed the Azores with a few ceramic pieces and a good feeling.
We arrived back in Norfolk to a tumultuous welcome from families
and friends. After a short respite, it was off again to Puerto
Rican waters. Captain Glenn Moore was given command for this
trip in recognition of his length of memorable war service without
command of a ship in the C&GS. Upon completion of this trip,
I relieved Captain Moore as Commanding Officer.
of the Ship” is a title that has no equal in my vocabulary.
There is something meaningful about it that even people in general
react to with esteem, as compared to Chief of Party or any such
title. I personally felt, and still do feel, proud to acknowledge
that I was the Commanding Officer. Muriel too, increased in
stature to “the Captain’s Wife.”
had a month in port this time for annual repairs and maintenance.
Most of the crew and officers get to take their annual leave
during this lay-up period. The officers remaining smooth copied
the past season’s work and wrote the summary reports.
my first season at the helm, it was back to the Caribbean again
and a survey of San Juan Harbor in Puerto Rico. The Resident
Commissioner of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico was so impressed
with this project that he had it read into the “Congressional
Record” that the survey ship EXPLORER was charting San
survey of the harbor in Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas Island
was on our itinerary. This is a “free port” as to
Customs taxes, so for whatever reason, everyone seemed to load
up on specialty items. I bought a set of stemware that has given
us enjoyment to use when entertaining dinner guests. Otherwise,
it was an extravaganza just to take advantage of no taxes. It
gets in your blood.
our route back to Norfolk, we were supposed to pass close to
Puerto Plata on the Dominican Republic. About 8 hours out we
got an urgent message to avoid the Island of the Dominican Republic
because an uprising had taken place and the ship could be in
danger. We gave it wide berth.
project instructions always included a route to follow when
going to and from the survey area. The soundings were all recorded
for adding to the chart. Most commercial ships follow established
lanes in transport for safe sailing; but our [the Coast
and Geodetic Survey] purpose was to chart the entire ocean
piece by piece as we go. Our course this time passed through
the Bermuda Triangle of seafarers’ lore. For us, it was
usually meant lots of free time, after a six months’ absence,
to get reacquainted with family and home. Not this time, 1965,
we were given two weeks to finish our survey reports and equip
the ship for a new project of tracking the Gulf Stream from
Cape Hatteras to the North Atlantic, where it dissipates. The
Gulf Stream is not a well-defined channel, but it meanders throughout
its course by the influence of cold glacial waters penetrating
from the waters of the north against the natural flow of the
warm waters from the south. Other than seasonal effect, the
heavy storms probably have the greatest effect on the Stream.
Our survey meant criss-crossing continually from Cape Hatteras,
where the Stream is well-defined, to the North Atlantic. The
instructions called for monthly runs of twenty days at sea and
ten days in port to take off the compensatory week-end time
earned and to prepare the ship for the next run.
survey was designed to run for a year to ascertain if a predictable
pattern could be published for boatmen to use. A 3 to 4 knot
current can make a lot of difference to an 8 to 10 knot boat
or ship sailing the waters. Taking advantage of the current
when sailing in a northerly direction is a time saver and knowing
where the slack waters are for a southerly route is likewise
necessary for good headway.
Stream project was about 3/4 done when welcome transfer orders
were received. This time, a completely new field for me. A shifting
of Government Departments and Bureaus placed the C&GS and
the Weather Bureau under one scientific entity called the Environmental
Science Services Administration (ESSA) that was subsequently changed
to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Integration
of the two scientific systems, C&GS and Weather, became a
real political issue.
inception in World War I, the Commissioned Corps had dominated
the Directorship of the Coast and Geodetic Survey Bureau and also
its Divisions’ management -- much to the dismay of the civilian
scientific community and Civil Service, too, I might add. The
versatility of the Commissioned Officer Corps had always prevailed
with Congress. The new reorganization set up by Congress could
entail expansion of the Corps or possibly its demise.
Bureau was undergoing an expanded program and expansion of forecast
management from Washington, D. C., central control to regional
control. The Western Region, as formed, comprised the 8 western
states with 88 observing stations. Meteorologists were selected
for the forecast management positions but none were experienced
in the Budget, Personnel, Finance, and Engineering management
position vacated by the incumbent manager. From the C&GS point
of view, this was an opportunity to demonstrate the versatility
of the Commissioned Officer in management competence and know-how.
I was in the
right place at the right time and was selected to “pave”
the way so to speak. The decision to “jump ship” was,
for me, kind of difficult considering my past 25 years in C&GS
activities. It took me about 15 minutes to call Muriel for an
OK and we were on our way to a new venture. I don’t mean
to imply that I was glad to leave the C&GS, but in considering
retirement in a few years, a change of venue experience might
have led to some unforeseen employment recommendation.
In my new
assignment, I was responsible for overseeing the day-to-day equipment
maintenance operations, finance, and personnel management of the
Weather Bureau Western Region, an organization of approximately
800 personnel spread over 8 states and 80 observing and/or forecasting
stations. To accomplish the tasks involved with this was a different
story. Meteorological language and procedures were foreign to
me as were the names and locations of all the field stations.
I was fortunate from the fact that the other Division Chiefs were
new at their positions and were not familiar with mine. The Western
Region Director, Mr. Hazen Bedke, got us all off in the right
direction with daily staff meetings with each Division Chief presenting
a critique explaining his “modus operandi.” I had
two weeks to prepare for the “Adtech” presentation.
Adtech is short for Administration and Technical Services Division
of which I was the designated chief. To blow my own horn, if I
may, they all expressed surprise that I had “caught on”
so quickly. Little did they realize, or think about, the fact
that government regulations of finance, personnel and procurement
are the same for all organizations. All I had to do was learn
their technical meteorological language and we were off to a good
was a firm believer that social activities, extra curricular that
is, are essential to good morale in an organization. We, Muriel
and I, were invited to be members in their bridge club consisting
of 3 and 4 tables meeting monthly for a buffet and bridge. Each
couple would host a meeting in turn with the host providing the
meat dish and refreshments and all the rest would contribute a
favorite dish each. We would ante before each game and then the
1st and 2nd got the loot. There were some pretty sharp players
in the group but I must admit, in all humility, that I didn’t
do too badly. For booby prize each night, you got your money back.
had one stipulation for all chiefs of Divisions - that of visiting
all of the forecast stations at least once a year. Observation
“only” stations as you could. After the monthly reports
were finished, I would usually take off by plane or by car to
visit several observation stations en route to the forecast stations.
My concern was personnel, equipment, maintenance, and supply.
Muriel would go along with me on these car trips and nearly every
station would give us a very cordial greeting. Many of the observation
stations, such as Stampede Pass, are so isolated that any company
would be very welcome, even for inspections.
One of our
longest trips, 3,210 miles, was from Salt Lake City, Utah, to
Quillayute (Forks), Washington, on the west end of the Olympic
Peninsula and return on a circuit route. Just for the record,
the stations visited were: Salt Lake City to start; Pocatello,
Twin Falls, and Boise, Idaho; Pendleton, Oregon; Walla Walla,
Yakima, Wenatchee, Stampede Pass, Quillayute, (Forks on the Olympic
Peninsula), and Olympia, Washington; Portland, Salem, Corvallis,
Meacham, Eugene, Sexton Summit, Medford, Klamath Falls, and Lakeview,
Oregon; Winnemucca, Elko, and Wendover, Nevada; and back to Salt
Lake City.... Incidentally, if you want a scary drive someday,
visit the weather stations on Stampede Pass and Sexton Summit.
A 4-wheel drive is a must for Sexton Summit.
When we didn’t
use all of our leave time to go back home to North Dakota, we’d
accumulate up to two weeks and visit Las Vegas. When we got serious
in 1968 about retirement, we got serious about house hunting in
Las Vegas during our vacation between golf games. The market was
good, the prices were down, we saw what we liked, and bought it
one year early. We talked our sales lady into renting it for one
year. Then we returned to Salt Lake City to sweat it out. My decision
to retire was easy. After two years on the job, I knew taht a
change in assignment could happen at any time in the natural rotation
of officers. The only position that would appeal to me was occupied
by one of our “old timers” who had no inclination
to change. So to beat the “Powers that be” to the
punch, I applied for retirement one year early. It was approved
and we were in heaven.
no letup in work detail until the day we left. Primarily in reorganization
and training a Civil Service person to take over my responsibility.
Centralization of Bureau personnel management and the supply functions
was accomplished. The financial accounting and disbursement was
also transferred to central accounting so the position I held
was changed dramatically....
activity that was assigned to me by Mr. Bedke was to organize
and manage a Combined Federal Campaign for the multitude of donations
that are solicited each year. The program was mandate of the Civil
Service Commission, so cooperation with Federal organizations
was easy except for one Judge, who thought his organization was
“above the law” so to speak. One letter to the Civil
Service Commission and he submitted. The difficulty was with the
managers of the various charity organizations over the percentage
distribution of undesignated funds. They were all to gain from
this program but the greed element seemed to be the stumbling
block. A final settlement was reached and a successful campaign
farewell was arranged for our retirement by the entire Western
Region Office and several visiting forecasters.... A sendoff to
last a lifetime. As we took our leave of Salt Lake, we left a
host of friends in the Weather Bureau ....
Thus ended a quarter century in the Coast and Geodetic Survey
for Marvin Paulson and his wife Muriel. Marvin has spent the last
32 years in retirement in Las Vegas, Nevada, swinging a golf club,
seeing old friends, and enjoying life. After over 40 moves, he
and Muriel deserve it.
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