Class of 1953
I was raised and schooled in Yankton â€˜til 1953. I remember all the days I enjoyed growing up in what is still today a special place in my heart and mind. I doubt there are few if any friends or those who might remember me from age 2 to 17 when I left to start college and find my own life as an adult. And, except for a brief ten day Xmas visit in 1956, I regret somewhat never returning. But, my parents and many aunts/uncles relocated to Phoenix shortly after I left, so there was no point or usual reason to return. Who am I?
On the real Columbus Day of October 12th I was 75. Wow, thatâ€™s over 50 years since I left my hometown to drive west â€˜til I hit water, the Pacific Ocean. But, Iâ€™m getting ahead of myself. My parents, Earle and Pauline, came to Yankton from Kansas City with aunt Hallie, uncle R. D. Hill and cousin Marilyn when I was 2 to start a gas station business, R. D. Hill Oil. Letâ€™s see, that would have been about 1937. That business thrived throughout my childhood, owned by R. D. as he was known and managed by my father. As I grew up I spent Saturdays out of momâ€™s hair sweeping the floors, wiping oil cans on the shelf and eventually pumping gas when I got older. There was also the thrill of trying to shoot mice running across the office floor with the company bb gun. The highlight of any day there was being allowed to take a coke from the old type ice chest and drop a handful of salted peanuts from the penny machine into the top to drink and chew simultaneously. Funny, but I donâ€™t remember any of this as work or as boring, at least until I got older. Any of these hints help name me?
I remember during later school years of junior and senior high we lived at 511 Locust St. and our phone number was 711. There were other rented houses before that. My parents never could quite afford to buy a house until I grew up and moved away. But, there was the elementary school, I think on Pine Street, that I can still picture today even though I have no memory of its name. Long walks home to and from there up to 12th street, a block from my cousin Marilynâ€™s house. Thatâ€™s where my 1st dog, Queenie, was run over and killed by Judge Boyle who lived around the corner. My uncle R. D. was an A Type businessman and a fringe politician who knew everybody. I liked him a lot and, besides the usual paper routes delivering the Sioux City and Minneapolis newspapers, he gave me my first job during the summer painting duplexes he rented out or helping on his hobby farm (ranch?) at the edge of town that became the then new golf course. Guess thatâ€™s still there. Anyway, R. D. was a hard tax master, but fair. R. Dâ€™s long gone, so you canâ€™t ask him my name.
I have great memories attending a plethora of events at the high school auditorium. My parents were always buying me season tickets for musical entertainment and plays held there, maybe to get rid of me for a moment? I got to see all the great violin, cello, piano players, etc. who came through town like it was a suburb of New York. I saw plays and musicals like Brigadoon and South Pacific and so many others I canâ€™t recall. Life was good to be a kid in Yankton then. What a great little cosmopolitan city of 7,000. I still donâ€™t understand how Yankton became and stayed such a special place. There were also high school band concerts. Yes, I played the clarinet. Boy I hated that thing. I wanted to play the trumpet like my good friend Bob Gregory. But, no, it had to be the clarinet. I have always loved music and I wanted to play the piano, like another friend Jimmy Nyberg. But, mom said we didnâ€™t have the room at home for a piano. I still donâ€™t believe that to this day. After the essentials the first thing I bought after marriage was an old used stand-up piano. Later I bought a second one for $110. It was solid oak with a steel back made in New York in 1898. Sold that for big bucks years later to a piano renovator from San Diego and bought into the full electronic version. Do I play? Yes. Am I any good? Only for my own amusement. Does this info help?
Then there were special events that came to town, like talent shows and The March of Dimes. There was this guy a bit older than me who was special also. He was funny and outspoken and he was usually the MC of many such events. His name was Charles Burke, Chuck to his friends. Would you believe he ended up marrying my cousin Marilyn and we shared many evenings playing cribbage, or him playing bridge, which he loved, and eating tons of sunflower seeds when they moved to the Los Angeles area. Oh, I didnâ€™t tell you that the Los Angeles area became my home in 1956 and itâ€™s where Iâ€™ve lived and worked to date. Anyway Iâ€™m sorry to say I lost touch with them a few years back when he went to work for IBM and moved around from Colorado to Austin, Texas and retired not long ago back to Yankton. I was very heartbroken when Marilyn died on my 71st birthday. She was probably my best friend growing up, but I hardly knew what that meant. But, as family goes we shared birthdays and Xmas every year with many aunts and uncles. Chuck may still be back in Yankton, so you might look him up to ask my name.
My leaving to resettle began when my parents moved to Sioux City after R. D. sold his gas stations right after high school graduation, class of â€™53 (GO BUCKS) and started with college at South Dakota U (GO COYOTES) in Vermillion for 2 unspectacular years. I really couldnâ€™t adjust. I joined a fraternity there, Lambda Chi Alpha, and thought life was about being free from care and responsibility, drink all you can get your hands on, sound familiar, and go to class when you can think of nothing else to do. It was a big waste of 2 years as I was too young emotionally to handle college. This was my initiation into maturity that was well learned if not really educational. At 20 I packed my â€™50 Chevy convertible and with 2 recent friends took off for sunny Southern California. The aunt and uncle of one friend lived in Ocean Park adjacent to Santa Monica where I slept on an empty bed for 4 weeks as one of their 4 sons was in the Air Force. They fed me meals without hesitation like I was family for that month until I found my first job. Here I should note that the girl who would join me in life, 53 years married and counting, lived next door, Sharon Cheney by name. Now thatâ€™s convenient. As I said before, I only returned to Yankton in â€™56. Maybe you saw me at Xmas time at the Firemanâ€™s Ball?
There I was, going to work on May 3rd, 1956 on the campus of UCLA as a Junior Engineer on the survey crew. The campus and the whole Los Angeles area was caught up in a construction boom and while I didnâ€™t have the experience or degree necessary for this job, it was given me on probation to see if I could do it. Well, they couldnâ€™t find anyone else at that time for the money offered. I guess it worked out as I stayed nearly 14 years moving up to Instrument Man, Crew Chief, State Certified School Inspector, Project Manager and Construction Manager. The last 6 years were spent on UCLA Medical School projects such as Marion Davies Childrenâ€™s Clinic, Jules Stein Eye Institute, etc. So itâ€™s no wonder I got an offer from Kaiser Foundation Hospitals to be Construction Manager for Southern California as they began there first real venture into building their own medical centers since their inception during WWII to keep ship builders on the job constructing Liberty ships. 6 years later their hospital money ran out after completing a multitude of clinics and hospitals throughout L. A. to San Diego and they asked me to become something other than a construction guy. But, I had found my place in life and was invited back to UCLA as Senior Construction Manager where I stayed for another 6 years. Well, what former kid from Yankton would do that?
During these two stints at UCLA I was blessed with meeting and working or talking to a number of prominently known people. Does the name John Wooden, the Wizard of Westwood, ring a bell? OK, so John wouldnâ€™t know my name from Adam, but many times I would breakfast early morning at the Student Union Cafeteria and thatâ€™s where Mr. Wooden started his day. More than once he asked me to sit with him as we were the only two in the place at that time of the morning. Heâ€™d ask what I did for UCLA and Iâ€™d ask him how the team looked for the next year. He was a very brilliant but common guy from the Midwest who was an honor to be around. Then there was one of my brother-in-laws. He was married to the daughter of UCLA Athletic Director Wilbur Johns. No problem getting tickets to the â€œBig Gameâ€ with USC. My first construction job as a Project Manager was building the new campus tennis courts under the direction of the tennis coach who was also President of the Student Union and Assistant Athletic Director. When Mr. Johns retired in a short while this assistant was appointed Athletic Director. His name was J. D. Morgan, probably one of the most astute and well known of all Athletic Directors nationally. Naturally my ability to continue getting tickets to UCLA events only increased. If you were at the L. A. Coliseum back then, you would have seen me.
Those years between 1956 and 1981 I was cavorting around the edges with many enviable people and events, hanging around practices and attending the games. These included UCLAâ€™s unprecedented 10 NCAA Basketball Championships, since become 11. I saw Lew every day before he became Kareem, plus Bill Walton, Gail Goodrich, Walt Hazard and many other roundballers who went on to NBA fame. There was Tom Harmon, a prominent sportscaster in L. A. for years whose son quarterbacked the Bruins and is now seen on NCIS. Oh, for tennis we had a few good ones I watched, such as Arthur Ashe and Jimmy Conners to name two and John McEnroe when Stanford was in town. We also had many movie shoots on campus and later at Kaiser that included most every star to hit the silver screen that included Jerry Lewis, Robert Ryan, Lee Marvin and John Wayne. There was also that moment in time where I took a second job at night to catch up on bills and put together a small nest egg to cover future expenses. I parked cars for 1Â½ years at celebrity type restaurants where any evening we saw the likes of Glenn Ford, Brian Dunlevy, June Alyson and Jane Powell with the BIG BLUE EYES. This was also the time when I was the Construction Manager on the UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute. You could have found me there if you would have thought to look.
For those who donâ€™t know, Jules Stein played in a band during college back east that performed at local functions. He was also responsible to find gigs for that band. He was the first to promote playing for a longer period that just over-nighters. He became so successful that other bands asked him to promote their assignments also. He was on track to become an eye doctor, but gave it up and came west where he started MCA, the Music Corporation of America. At one time nearly every movie star and celebrity in the business was under contract to MCA. He also owned Decca Records and Universal Studios. As he retired, bought out by Westinghouse, he donated money to UCLA to build a state-of-the-art eye institute to be the finest in the country. He and his wife Doris toured the world to select the marble exterior, the terrazzo interior and bought and stripped many German and Danish castles of their wormwood cabinets, oak floors and chandeliers to install in this building. At the formal dedication and as the most knowledgeable regarding the building I was chosen to lead the â€œA Groupâ€ on the opening tour that included Walt Disney, Gregory Peck, Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Bette Davis, etc., etc. Imagine that, the kid from South Dakota who spent his youth in Yankton going to the movies when admission was 9 cents and for a penny you could buy a bag of Old Maids, the popcorn that donâ€™t pop, hobnobbing with the notorious and famous to the music of the Universal Studios orchestra, which Jules also owned, snacking and dancing under the stars. Of course none of them knew who I was. But then, you donâ€™t either.
This period of time was also when Sharon was working to help with money to buy houses, cars and school clothes. She worked in the office of the most prominent Speech Therapist and School Placement Psychiatrist on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Many movie and stage people came there to get help in developing say an Irish lilt to their voice to play an assigned role in a movie or play and to also get their children into local schools where the movie was being filmed say in France or Ireland. This man was a mover and shaker in the area of show business people. He had to be as thatâ€™s how he earned his living. As such he was a member of the Thalians, a somewhat little known charity group of movie and stage celebrities that each year promote a Thalians Ball for a renowned star (look up Thalians on the internet). He was Vice President on his way to becoming President of the group and was required to purchase and fill a lead table at that event. So for three years we attended and again hobnobbed with the rich and powerful of Hollywood as they honored first Fred Astaire, then Debbie Reynolds and finally Gene Kelly. Short of a ticket to the Oscars, this is as big as it gets out west, cocktails with Fred, Debbie and Gene. Hey, letâ€™s do lunch, but first you have to find me.
But, I digress. I donâ€™t mean to be a name-dropper â€˜cause these are just people, no more, no less, unless weâ€™re discussing money. My point is that growing up I think we all had thoughts one day if not of becoming famous, of at least rubbing shoulders with some stars, and since day one of my relocated life in Los Angeles I have been fortunate enough to have seen and done some things that have helped reshape my own personality, for the better I hope. In fact the very first night in L. A. a couple of us just had to drive to Hollywood and Vine in a downpour where they say that if you stand long enough a movie star will pass by, and they were right. As we stood there for all of 10 minutes we looked down Vine where people were exiting a little old theatre at intermission. Out walks this big guy whose pants were far too short. It was Alan Hale Jr. who had yet to become a well-known star on Gilliganâ€™s Island and acting support in many movies. Did you see me see him?
So the shy behind the scenes small kid, somewhat brainless and with little future has been gone for many years and replaced by me, whatever that may be, you decide. How did I ever venture onto the path that put me into construction management to then become fortunate enough to be in the right place so often at the right time? When I was in early high school the Corp of Engineers began building the many earthen damns up and down the Missouri. Ours was Gavins Point, which I noticed has doubled the population count I grew up with. The Project Manager for Gavins Point happened to be an old friend of my parents back in Kansas and Missouri. When he arrived in town in the company Piper Cub my parents would not hear of him living in a hotel with the food they served. So, he moved into our spare bedroom and as payment we were treated to trips in the car to the site mostly at night after school and after my Dadâ€™s work to see a true army of earth moving equipment from all over the world pushing and scooping dirt around the big lights used to see with. To see all that and to see this Project Manager arrive home with his pressed military style khakis creased just so and strange things on his belt, not guns and knives, but plumb bobs and hand levels, I knew right there and then, this was the life for me. Sure, I stumbled around college without knowledge of any major, except maybe math, which I was good at. But, once on my own my first job was with the U. S Soils and Conservation Department around Sioux City and thence to the Architectâ€™s and Engineering Department of UCLA. Get outta my way, but first you gotta find me.
In between my two assignments at UCLA I was appointed Construction Manager for Kaiser Foundation Hospitals for Southern California as mentioned previously. I had Assistant Construction Managers reporting to me from various areas around Los Angeles, such as West L. A., Hollywood area, Valley area (as in San Fernando Valley), Harbor City, Bellflower, Panorama City, Lancaster and San Diego while I traveled the circuit to keep everything moving in the same direction. I also spent hours in the air back and forth to Oakland/San Francisco where Kaiserâ€™s main offices were located. In those days and before the break-up of what the feds called an illegal conglomerate, Kaiser owned the west coast. There was Kaiser Steel, Kaiser Engineers, Kaiser Shipbuilding, Kaiser Radio and TV and Aluminum and Cement and Drywall and Kaiser You-Name-It. We were really big time and I could, and did, pick up a phone and talk to the foremost authority on cement, etc. at any time. I was becoming an authority myself, but you wouldnâ€™t know that, or me.
After Kaiser and UCLA I struck out for the first time to see what construction was really about, working for a good mid-size contractor as their Senior Project Manager and General Superintendent for 9 years. We built numerous large housing projects under the jurisdiction of HUD plus many school projects and private condominiums and other private businesses. This was a very busy time for me, but the company did well and I was compensated accordingly, not millions, but more than adequately. But, 9 years was enough as I was reaching close to my senior years and I wanted to somehow do more. So I resigned, without telling Sharon. Advice to all, do not under any circumstances do that as it can make those who care about us a bit testy. Nevertheless, I was determined to find something new and exciting that would really test my experience and abilities. After 5 months I found it. The subway, Los Angelesâ€™ mighty Redline, had just begun and they had exhausted hiring every expert they could find from around the world where subways had been built since the late 1800â€™s in New York and London. They found me, but you havenâ€™t.
Parsons (a large engineering firm in Pasadena â€“ look it up to find that a Parsons designed the first New York subway system) and Dillingham (a large construction firm from northern California) had entered into a joint venture with 11 other firms, including Kaiser Engineers, to manage the construction of the first ever subway built in Los Angeles. Before 1988 L. A. depended upon land lots of land for freeways. But, as land got most expensive and exhaust from cars began to effect breathing, L. A. turned to that worldwide phenomena underground, sub (beneath the surface) and way (from here to there). And they wanted me as they had hired every expert known to man relative to laying rails, running signals up the rail, elevators, escalators you name it, but no one who knew how to bring it all together and actually build it. So a few people like me were hired to do that. In the railway profession, and thatâ€™s what a subway is a railway, and governed by various government offices, such as the PUC (Public Utility Commission), the lead Construction Manager on any project is called the Resident Engineer. This person went along cross- country as the railroads were built and was available and in residence at the head of the track. Me too, but underground where I could not be seen, by you.
That was I, Resident Engineer. I managed the construction on the first subway segment built for the 7th and Metro Station. This is a T-shaped station where the original light rail surface line from Long Beach was to dive under ground back about 10 blocks and end itsâ€™ run uptown while the Redline Subway crossed under it on itâ€™s way out to Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley plus further west and out to Santa Monica on a split-line. I replaced the previous RE who had started the project, but he soon fell into disfavor with MTA. Easy to understand as it turned out I knew him having fired him myself from a Kaiser hospital project. This job was a year behind schedule and deep in trouble with hundreds of outstanding change orders where work had been done, but money hadnâ€™t been approved. So for the next couple of years I had my hands full. Thatâ€™s why I wasnâ€™t around then for you to find me.
How is it that someone not experienced working underground could fit into such an environment? Easy depending upon how you view it. A subway station is first of all no more than a 640 or 940 foot long concrete structure, depending on whether the station has a rail switch-over or not as each 3rd one does. It is also 55 foot wide, street width from curb to curb and 65 feet deep with many levels of utility rooms, a mezzanine and a train platform long enough for 8 train sections called consists. So itâ€™s really just a tall concrete building with 4 foot thick walls laid on its side and built 65 feet underground below the foundations of the tall exiting skyscrapers that you run a train through. Thatâ€™s it and everything else is done by the so-called experts. So now you name this expert.
Working closely with the contractor and designers we began to recover lost time until we were back on schedule and were the 1st station to complete construction within the 5 stations and tunnels of Segment One. I still have my 1st Performance Evaluation by my supervisor Joe Castro who had virtually built the Northeast Railroad system around Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, DC, Boston and on to New York. Smart man. He said I was very hard working and knowledgeable about construction, but didnâ€™t know subways from applesauce. In my 2nd evaluation one year later he said I was the quickest learner he knew and was now the best Resident Engineer he had had the privilege to work with. Like I said, smart man. Since this was the 1st subway for this area it was high profile among the politicians and celebrities. Since my team was leading the charge I became the tour guide for the Mayor and all the prominent types from DC and around the world. If you were there, I would have toured you too.
My reward for finishing on time and on budget was to be assigned the closeout responsibility for the entire Segment One operations. I was given personnel, vehicles and equipment that required I appear each morning at 6:30 am to receive that days assignments and appear again at 6:30 pm to report what was completed, for three long months. While these crews worked through the day I had to walk every square foot of 5 stations and 4 Â½ miles of tunnels with the State Fire Marshall and the city and state Fire Captains for their signatures to declare all was safe to occupy and operate. I became the most knowledgeable of this whole system. This was somehow like being God, except with a small g. We opened the system to riders promptly on the date and time forecast 7 years earlier and in a public works project, thatâ€™s unheard of. And so am I, unheard of that is.
From there I was assigned a 12 mile reach up Vermont Ave. from Wilshire to Sunset Blvâ€™d. to Highland Ave., where Graumanâ€™s Chinese Theatre is located. I was responsible to demolish all building sites where 7 Segment Two stations would be built and prepare the sites for those buildings. As I finished that job it appeared there may not be another assignment in Segment Two for me as they had all been filled while I prepared the way. But, as fate stepped in again, the RE that had just started the biggest project yet resigned to take a top position on the Taiwan subway and the office said, send me. Who? Me.
So there I was, RE on the Normandie/Wilshire Station and Line, two miles of tunnels which are called a line, a $100 million dollar project in the â€˜90â€™s. Another real doozey of a job with 7 large office skyscapers and a Radisson Hotel right on the site. Needless to say, we had our moments throughout construction. But, we again started from behind then led the way and finished on time and on budget. We survived a big L. A. earthquake undamaged and several lawsuits by the locals all thrown out by the courts. Once again I played tour guide for many countries around the world whose own subway big shots wanted to see what we were doing as each new subway promotes new designs that have never been tried before. All in all I spent 7 Â½ years building our subway and loving every minute of it. Not many construction jobs in the world are larger or more complicated than a new major subway system, and I was there. Where were you?
Next I went to work as a Senior Construction Manager for a local large Architectural and Engineering firm across the street from LAX, Los Angeles International Airport. I was in charge of the environmental assessment team for the LAX $20 billion dollar expansion, facilitated all the design approvals via City Hall for Playa Vista, the largest residential development west of the Mississippi on the old Howard Hughes Airport grounds in Playa Del Rey and was Deputy Construction Manager for LAUSD, Los Angeles Unified School District, when they passed bonds to obtain $20 billion to renovate 916 older school complexes while building 150 new schools. Quit working on that one with a 3 year stint in between to set up the Polices and Procedures for the Los Angeles Community College District, 9 campuses. Just like my father before me, who retired at 65 and went back into business at 67, Iâ€™m not the retiring type. Iâ€™ve already played all the golf and tennis I choose and I hate sail boats. Working with what I do has always been, more or less, fun. If you name me, fun may await you too.
Six years ago my wifeâ€™s mother passed leaving no more family in L. A. as we had already sent our two grown children and family south to the Temecula/Murrieta area half way to San Diego, where the pace of life and schools are as they should be. So we followed purchasing a home in the new development and gated Oasis community of Menifee on the grounds of the Menifee Lakes Country Club with about a five iron from our front door to the 6th green. At the same time I moved into a one-bedroom apartment in the WLA area. I continue to work in the L. A. area where demand and wages are high while commuting to the house on weekends. After all we married for better or worse, but not for 24/7. On August 1 Sharon and I celebrated 53 years of marriage, with time out for good behavior. If you can find me, you too are invited to celebrate.
We have two children, Debbie Kay now 54 and married to Danny with three of our grandchildren: Matt just started middle school, Chris a year behind and Alexandria (Rea) 1Â½ behind him with both boys student of the year winners and Rea about to be. They are active in all sports, karate, dancing, band and have been using computers since they were 4 years old. Also son Jay now 44 and married to Erica with two more grandchildren: Jordan 11 and Zoe 9. Sharon spends a lot of time going to many school awards programs. Do you see any name hints now?
After 30 and too old to play my game, baseball, I took up golf â€˜til it became so popular you had to stand in line to play. Then came bowling with my menâ€™s scratch league, Sharonâ€™s womenâ€™s league and a mixed league together. Then we discovered tennis. Remember the big tennis boom? We owned a tennis shop in a large tennis club in Cheviot Hills that Sharon ran and played 8 days a week. Jay became quite good and played on the junior tennis circuit â€˜til he went into the U. S. Navy. Now our recreation is dancing at our monthly dinner dance parties plus occasional outings to several country/western spots. I always enjoyed music and dancing â€˜cause that got you invited to private parties. If you went to the Teen Canteen when I was growing up youâ€™d have seen me there dancing, playing ping-pong and hanging out.
I remember some of those I went to school with. Bob Gregory, whose dad I believe was a pharmacist. Their house was next to the local juke box and pin ball king whose name was Mike Imig, so naturally Bob had a pin ball in his basement. He also played trumpet in the band and was a good friend of Jimmy Nyberg who was outstanding on the piano and won competitions. On graduation Bob went off to MIT or Georgia Tech or ? Then he went to work for Caterpillar in Peoria. Gary Jacobs and I used to do stupid comedy routines like Dean and Jerry, only not very well. He was on the cheerleading squad. Jim Smith was a big guy who lived across the corner whose dad worked for the telephone company and took us to Wednesday movies â€˜cause that was bank night. They moved to Sioux Falls while still in high school and he came back for a football game where he was their punter. Dick Ricci lived right behind him whose dad was an ex-motorcycle officer. Believe Dick was badly hurt in and accident and died young. There were also Jack Jacobson who I walked home from school with plus Larry Beaver who I didnâ€™t know well, Dick Rye who played catcher on our American Legion baseball team and all of us played basketball on the junior Outlaw squad. This was when Yankton Hi hired the coach from Minnesota, Lars Overski. Lars never much knew me either.
We had great football and basketball teams in those days including state championships. There was Jim Steckler at 6â€™ 4â€ tallest in the school, Jack Becker, Kay Andrews, Jim Stransky, who I think went on to the NFL. Besides basketball and baseball I also ran track mostly the high and low hurdles. Sports were really where it was all at for me as Yankton certainly made huge efforts in those areas. My dad was baseball commissioner then as he had played pro ball out of Kansas and Missouri. We spent many summer evening watching our town team at Riverside Park and chasing and keeping many foul balls. Our American Legion coaches were Beansie Anderson formerly of the Red Sox and Franny Horachik formerly of the Yankees, both great teachers. Since then I have been fortunate to see the Dodgers in the World Series, The Lakers as NBA Champs many times, the Kings and Ducks in hockey, many Rose Bowl games and parades where I took my dad as that was his favorite thing. Also attended many Indy Car events when the builder/owner of the California 500 also built the Kaiser Fontana hospital for me. I was also good friends through church with the general manager of the old Fox Hills Golf Course in Culver City so played late afternoons there with him and many sports stars in our group, such as Tommy Davis, Willie Davis and Maury Wills all of the Dodgers and Jerry West of the Lakers who were all great golfers also. Thatâ€™s a lot of names, but not mine.
The girls I remember were Dorothy Ballensky who was a cheerleader and who I took to two proms and I wasnâ€™t a very good date, Ginette Paulson and Judy Haas who were like my buddies, Karen Andrews, Kayâ€™s sister, Franny Brenner and the Wieger sisters who lived next door. Funny thing is I have traveled to far away places and ran into people there who live next door or who Iâ€™ve worked with. But in all these years since leaving Yankton I have yet to run into anyone whatsoever that I went to school with, ever. Did you ever run into me?
For recreation and enjoyment Sharon and I began renting motor homes years ago and traveling all over the west from Baja Mexico to Oregon to Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Yellowstone, etc. Sharonâ€™s idea of camping though was to park a nice motor home in front of a 5 star hotel where you had reservations. Then we did the Hawaii thing, our favorite island to stay at being Kaui. But, Sharon always had this dream since she was young of some day going to New York and after 9/11 thatâ€™s what we have done. I donâ€™t know which of us likes New York the most. We stay at the Kimberly across from the Waldorf Astoria in midtown as there we get a whole suite for the price of a room at the Waldorf. We attend all the musicals on Broadway, eat at all the famous places New Yorkers would never think of going to; Sardisâ€™, Club 21, the View on top of the Marriott Times Square that revolves while you eat, Angelo and Maxieâ€™s, made famous by the 1935 hit Lullaby of Broadway, the Peking Duck House, the original Howard Johnsonâ€™s, the Hudson River dinner and dance cruise, the Stage Deli, Lindyâ€™s Deli, the Ritz Deli, the Cotton Club and of course Tavern on the Green within Central Park. We have never had a bad or disappointing meal in New York and that includes Nathanâ€™s Hot Dogs, New York Pizza, etc. In fact even being raised in the Midwest on Kansas City beef the best steaks anywhere anytime can be had in New York as they age them a minimum of 28 days and they melt in your mouth. Well, guess Iâ€™ve now upset the Kansas City steak people at least who may come looking for me.
We have also visited every tour site available; Times Square to start the 1st day of each trip, the double-decker tour buses, the Bronx Zoo which is sensational, Wall Street, the Diamond Exchange ( ye of faint heart and wallet best beware), the Fashion District (also a plot to spend your 401K plan at), the World Trade Center site that is very hard to experience, South Street Seaport where they park the tall ships, United Nations Building, Madison Square Garden, Christ Church, USA Tennis Center, Yankee Stadium, Central Park where we have taken carriage rides, the American Natural History Museum, Harlem which isnâ€™t what you have heard it is as it is beautiful now and a location of choice of younger families, Rockefeller Center with itâ€™s famous winter skating rink, Radio City Music Hall, the Empire State Building where you must go to the top for the view, the Chrysler Building, Grand Central Station that takes your breath away plus itâ€™s Grand Central market, over the Roosevelt and the BMW that stands for the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Washington bridges, China Town, Little Italy, Penn Station, Trinity Church where Alexander Hamilton is buried, the Flat Iron Building, Battery Park, SoHo that stands for south of Houston Street, Greenwich, Bellvue Hospital, Harold Square, Washington Square, the Superior Courts, One Police Plaza, Trump Tower, Macyâ€™s. If youâ€™d have been in Tiffanyâ€™s back then, you would have seen Sharon and me there while she bought her necklace and ear ring set, but would you have recognized me?
We have flown into both JFK and the New Jersey airport with JFK, although old and rickety, the best drive into Manhattan. Weâ€™ve been to Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and past Staten Island and Long Island. We love the New York cabs and the way they scoot around town at 70 mph on streets that are hardly safe to cross. Pedestrians do not have any right-of-way there. Didnâ€™t go this year as it was spent with Sharon taking new spinal decompression treatments to cure her sciatica from tennis. Plus rearranged our finances, procured a living trust with new wills, bought a new car and wrote this history story to amuse myself. I hope it has entertained you if not amused.
Am still working as I enjoy what I do. Have been working as a consultant to MTA Metro on several projects and am currently a Construction Manager on the I-405 freeway widening project of $1 billion. Still having fun being me.
Listen, I know this story to many is just so much gooble-de-gook But, Iâ€™m very amazed and surprised to look back on my life, with where Iâ€™ve been and what Iâ€™ve accomplished and whom Iâ€™ve shared it with. I am thankful to Yankton and the good childhood it provided when I didnâ€™t know shoot from shinola. Thatâ€™s correct, I thank you all for a good start in life. Dennis Alexander thanks you all.
Honoring Our Heroes
This area is dedicated to our alumni that have served or are serving in our armed forces!
Lost Class Rings
Have you lost your Yankton High School class ring? Have you found someone's class ring? Visit our Bucks lost class ring page to search for your class ring or post information about a found ring.